Elder abuse is a subject that is still somewhat taboo but so important, because it represents a sad reality that should not be ignored. Whether it’s violent behavior, neglect, or simply inappropriate words, elder mistreatment can be of many types. Each of them has harmful consequences for the elderly person who is a victim of it.
To ensure greater prevention of such unacceptable situations, it is essential to properly recognize the various forms of elder abuse. Hopefully, a better understanding of this reality will help prevent it. Ultimately, the objective is to protect the health and well-being of seniors by always keeping them safe and secure.
7 main types of elder abuse : How to identify them ?
Did you know that there are as many as 7 distinct types of elder abuse ? Even sometimes unintentional, mistreatment of older adults can take many forms, and should never be overlooked. Whether it is for yourself, or for an elderly loved one, we always need to remain vigilant to the multiple signs of elder abuse.
1. Physical Abuse
When we think of violence against the elderly, physical abuse is often the first thing that comes to mind. Violent gestures can indeed take different forms: shoving / pushing, hitting, biting, pinching, using inappropriate restraint, and so on. Regardless of if they are done intentionally or out of anger, all these behaviors are totally unacceptable and should be denounced. We must remember that the consequences of physical mistreatment of seniors cause real injury, and that each and every pain is one too many.
Unfortunately, in some cases, abuse is initiated by someone close to the elderly person: spouse, children, friend, dependent relative, etc. Although the first intentions may not always be bad, extreme family stress and frequent conflicts can, regrettably, escalate into episodes of violence. Even though feelings of guilt may be associated with it, it is important not to remain silent in the face of such acts of abuse.
Are you a victim and/or a witness of such physical elder mistreatment ? Please make sure to look for help to stop brutality towards seniors.
2. Emotional Abuse
Just as common, and unfortunately much less visible, psychological abuse of seniors requires consideration. From inappropriate comments, to shouting, screaming, and threatening, emotional abuse can take many forms. And the impact is always as damaging.
- Denigration ;
- Harassment ;
- Humiliation ;
- Manipulation ;
- Threats ;
- Denial / Rejection ;
The consequences of psychological mistreatment of the elderly need to be taken seriously. Their well-being and safety depend on it. Since seniors who are subjected to this invisible form of violence often experience feelings of shame and fear, acts and words of this kind unfortunately tend to persist.
Before the situation worsens, please do not hesitate to seek help quickly if you witness or experience an act of emotional abuse against a senior.
3. Sexual Abuse
Because it represents a sensitive issue, sexual mistreatment of seniors often falls into oblivion. People who are victims of such abuse may feel guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed to talk about it. Sadly, some of them may then choose not to talk about it. But this reality should be always taken seriously. Resources are available to help seniors in this kind of situation. Social workers, nurses, doctors, and other health professionals, for example, are certainly good references in case of need.
Inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, physical contact, coerced caresses, or kisses, all these acts constitute sexual abuse, if carried out without consent. Vigilance against sexual assault is, of course, particularly important. Regardless of age, sexual harassment is a crime that must never be ignored.
4. Financial Abuse
Financial abuse, also referred as economic or material mistreatment, is a type of elder abuse often trivialized. However, the consequences on seniors are very real !
Many forms of financial mistreatment against seniors can be observed:
- Stealing ;
- Fraud ;
- Frequent and insistent borrowing of money from a relative ;
- Manipulation to influence a financial decision (will, estate sale, legal documents and more);
- Financial exploitation through unreasonable amounts of money charged to a senior for goods or services.
Have you been a victim of some type of financial abuse, or do you think you may have seen it happen ? Please do not hesitate to talk about it with someone you trust. To protect your money and the investments you have accumulated for your retirement, you can also take advantage of the professional services of a lawyer or a notary, for example.
5. Neglect against seniors
By definition, neglect refers to any fault based on an oversight and/or lack of care or attention. Whether intentional or unintentional, neglect towards a senior is characterized by the failure to provide care that should be provided for the health, well-being, and safety of the elderly person.
As someone living with a dependent elderly relative, you certainly know how important it is to look after them with respect, in order to take care of their essential needs: food, health care, housing, etc.
Unfortunately, neglect is often accompanied by situations of abandonment and social isolation. Taking the necessary steps to prevent this type of mistreatment by surrounding yourself with people you can trust is therefore extremely important. Living alone at home as a senior ? If so, you may be interested to know that personalized homecare services of a professional caregiver can represent an interesting solution for you. Home support provides some precious help for seniors in everyday tasks such as dressing, bathing, meals, and transportation, as well as a reassuring and safe presence.
Defined as a form of discrimination against seniors, ageism is another type of mistreatment capable of causing real harm. It can be observed all around in a variety of forms: infantilization, ignorance, offensive words and so on. This type of elder abuse often arises from prejudice and misconceptions.
Since ageism is sometimes unintentional, it is important to always be careful in our choice of words, as well as aware of the consequences it can have on the victims, just like any other form of discrimination and intimidation.
7. Violation of elder rights
Individual human rights apply to everyone, regardless of age, nationality, or beliefs. From the right to privacy, to preserving autonomy, to a safe and comfortable environment and appropriate medical care, respecting the rights of seniors is an essential concern for every community.
Identifying risks to better prevent elder abuse
While nobody is totally immune to mistreatment, some elements are identified as risk factors. It is therefore essential to be particularly vigilant when dealing with such situations, to avoid any type of violence against seniors.
- Family conflicts ;
- Social isolation ;
- Relationships based on dependence ;
- Cognitive disorders ;
- Physical limitations ;
Recognition of these predisposing factors, combined with a considerate and caring attitude towards seniors who are most at risk, can surely help prevent some of the problems of elder abuse that many seniors sadly must face each and every year.
Helpful resources available to seniors
Are you looking for some assistance either for yourself or for an elderly relative near you ? It is good to know that several resources are available to seniors who are victims of any type of mistreatment:
- Talk about it with someone you trust ;
- Use crisis lines such as Aide Abus Aînés (Quebec) or EAPON (Ontario);
- Contact Info-Social 811 (Quebec) or 211 (Ontario) ;
- Consult a healthcare professional (social worker, nurse, doctor) ;
- Seek help from community organizations ;
- In the event of an emergency, do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 for immediate intervention.
At Visavie, the well-being of seniors is always a priority. With the greatest respect, our experienced advisors will guide you toward the best solutions for your needs. Through our home care services, our professional caregivers offer compassionate support to seniors who choose to continue living at home. Our devoted advisors can also accompany you in a smooth transition to a seniors’ residence meeting your needs, to enjoy a safe and pleasant living environment. Through our services, we are confident that the risks of elder abuse can be reduced.