What is Elder Abuse?
Unfortunately, elder abuse occurs in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and even private homes. Therefore, it is important to know the forms elder abuse can take. Elder abuse usually falls into the following five categories:
Physical Abuse and Neglect
When people think about elder abuse, most people think about physical abuse. Physical abuse is defined as any non-accidental use of force against an elderly person including shoving, pinching, and using drugs inappropriately. The abuse can take many forms from slapping a resident to beating or restraining a resident. Neglect can be intentional and non-intentional (i.e. untrained staff who do not understand the needs of an elderly patient). Neglect can be as simple as not putting shoes on the patient or as serious as not feeding, bathing, or giving the person his or her medications. In addition, physical abuse and neglect are assault under Kentucky’s criminal statutes; therefore, law enforcement may charge the abuser with a crime.
Verbal Abuse and Emotional Abuse
Verbal and emotional abuse humiliate, ridicule, intimidate, and threaten an elderly person. It can take the form of yelling, threatening, and habitually blaming the person for something he did not do. Furthermore, emotional abuse includes using words and phrases to cause intentional emotional pain and anguish, harm the person’s sense of self-worth, and cause the person to withdraw.
Psychological abuse causes an elderly person severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Examples of psychological abuse include isolating the patient from other patients, preventing or interfering with the patient from visiting with family and friends, and terrorizing the elderly person. In addition, psychological abuse can result in acute depression and withdrawal that undermines the patient’s well-being and health.
Any unwanted sexual contact by another person, including staff, doctors, visitors, friends, family members, and other residents, is sexual abuse. Abusers often trick, coerce, or manipulate the elderly person into engaging in the undesired sexual act due to the person decreased mental abilities. In addition to engaging in sexual acts, sexual abuse also includes forcing a resident to watch sexual acts. Furthermore, sexual abuse is also a crime, punishable by harsh penalties under Kentucky’s sexual abuse laws.
Elder financial abuse goes way beyond taking a senior citizen’s money. For example, financial abuse includes:
- Stealing an elderly citizen’s identity
- Credit fraud
- Not paying a person’s bills
- Forging a signature
- Obtaining a fraudulent power of attorney
- Taking any property without informed and valid consent.