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According to the Administration on Aging in general, elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any person that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.

Laws and definitions vary considerably from one state to another, but broadly defined, abuse may be:
  • Physical Abuse-inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
  • Sexual Abuse-non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect-the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable adult.
  • Exploitation-the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional abuse-inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elderly person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
  • Abandonment-desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-neglect-characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health and safety.

While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, some tell-tale signs that there could be a problem are:
  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Burses around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the results of exploitation.
  • Bed sours, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats and other uses of power and control by others are indications of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver/caretaker and elderly person.
Source: Administration on Aging

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