Monday, June 17, 2024

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Out of the Shadows: Recognizing Lesser-Known Forms of Elder Abuse

Older adults are a vulnerable population, and many of us would hate to think that when we send our parents off to a nursing home to get the proper treatment, they will be mistreated.

The thought of someone with malicious intent getting within six feet of our loved ones, making them feel scared or afraid in a place where they are supposed to thrive, is infuriating and terrifying all at once.

Unfortunately, people with abusive tendencies will seek any opportunity within their reach to gain power over others, worming their way into every possible safe haven.

This fact is why the Catholic church, once thought a sacred bastion of love and harmony, has since been acknowledged as a hotbed for many different forms of abuse.

If such a space as that is not sacred, how much less so is a nursing home, which has already been largely stigmatized by negative portrayals in media?

While such forms of abuse as physical abuse and sexual abuse leave tangible, physical signs of something distressing occurring, other forms of abuse leave behind much more subtle traces of evidence; traces that you may miss if you aren’t looking for them.

If you want to ensure your loved one’s safety as they enter the world of nursing homes and third-party caregivers for the first time, the best thing you can do is get educated on these forms of abuse or maltreatment and their most common signs.

That way, should something untoward happen, you can recognize and act on it immediately.

Without further ado, here are some of the harder-to-catch forms of abuse and their most common signs. 

Emotional Abuse: Dehumanizing, Demoralizing Behavior

Emotional abuse is the hardest form of abuse on this list to catch, and unless a caregiver is caught in the act, there’s very little differentiating the symptoms of emotional abuse from other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.

Emotional abuse is any attempt made by a caregiver to dehumanize, demoralize, or otherwise emotionally violate an older adult under their care;

it can take many forms, such as threatening or attempting to frighten the older adult, insulting them, separating them from others and preventing them from engaging in social situations, or restricting their access to the hospital’s facilities.

One of the most common symptoms of this form of abuse is a significant change in their emotional state. If they appear withdrawn or moody, start becoming prone to angry or violent outbursts or develop suicidal ideation, they may be suffering from emotional abuse.

Other signs tend to be changed in eating or sleeping habits, withdrawal from social events or activities that they love, and other symptoms commonly associated with depression. 

Financial Abuse: Follow the Paper Trail

At the very least, financial abuse can be easier to track than emotional abuse, especially if you have connections to your loved one’s finances.

However, financial abuse can happen on both a large and small scale, being primarily the manipulation of older adults to secure their possessions or assets unlawfully.

Financial abuse can be something as small as a caregiver pocketing your older adult’s favorite expensive possession or getting them to agree to a fraudulent financial arrangement that has no backing paperwork.

The key here is to listen to your older adult and pay close attention to any discussion regarding finances, particularly if your older adult has a condition that may impair their cognitive functioning.

If you notice that your older adult mentions a financial agreement that you weren’t privy to, further investigation may be needed.

Should you suspect that your older adult is being taken advantage of, you may want to contact an experienced lawyer. Having worked on these kinds of cases before, an experienced lawyer will be able to do everything they can to ensure justice is served.

Keeping a Weather Eye

When attempting to ensure the safety and security of your older adult, there are two things you must do: listen to them when they attempt to communicate their experiences to you and keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t have a solid explanation.

If you notice something sketchy or believe your older adult is unhappy, investigate as thoroughly as possible; You may be rescuing your older adult from a terrible fate.

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