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Learn how to stop elder abuse

 

June 14, 2019



Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is commemorated in America and around the world to raise awareness of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Older Americans are vital, contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us.

Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.

Physical abuse means inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult.

Sexual abuse means touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an older adult, when the older adult is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.

Emotional abuse means verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.

Confinement means restraining or isolating an older adult, other than for medical reasons.

Passive neglect is a caregiver’s failure to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.

Willful deprivation means denying an older adult medication, medical care, shelter, food, therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, and exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm—except when the older, competent adult has expressed a desire to go without such care.

Financial exploitation means the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another.

Approximately one in 10 Americans age 60 or older has experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as five million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only one in 14 cases of abuse is reported to authorities.

Who are the abusers of older adults? Abusers are both women and men. In almost 60 percent of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.

Social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease ) are two factors. Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect. Interpersonal violence also occurs at disproportionately higher rates among adults with disabilities.

The warning signs of elder abuse are physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment: Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns.

Emotional abuse: Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unusual depression; strained or tense relationships; frequent arguments between the caregiver and older adult.

Financial abuse: Sudden changes in financial situations.

Neglect: Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss.

Verbal or emotional abuse: Belittling, threats, or other uses of power and control by individuals.

Elders who have been abused have a 300 percent higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been mistreated. While likely underreported, estimates of elder financial abuse and fraud costs to older Americans range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually. Yet, financial exploitation is self-

reported at rates higher than emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.

Most states have penalties for those who victimize older adults. Increasingly, across the country, law enforcement officers and prosecutors are trained on elder abuse and ways to use criminal and civil laws to bring abusers to justice.

Educating seniors, professionals, caregivers, and the public on abuse is critical to prevention. If you’re an older adult, you can stay safe by:

• Taking care of your health.

• Seeking professional help for drug, alcohol, and depression concerns and urging family members to get help for these problems.

• Attending support groups for spouses and learning about domestic violence services.

• Planning for your own future. With a power of attorney or a living will, you can address health care decisions now to avoid confusion and family problems later. Seek independent advice from someone you trust before signing any documents.

• Staying active in the community and connected with friends and family. This will decrease social isolation, which has been connected to elder abuse.

• Posting and opening your own mail.

• Not giving personal information over the phone.

• Using direct deposit for all checks.

• Having your own phone.

• Reviewing your will periodically.

• Knowing your rights. If you engage the services of a paid or family caregiver, you have the right to voice your preferences and concerns. If you live in a nursing home, call your long-term care Ombudsman. The ombudsman is your advocate and has the power to intervene.

If an older adult is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call 911. Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated should contact a local Adult Protective Services office, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or police. Information is available from the Eldercare Locator online or by calling 1-800-677-1116.

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Senior Day is today

Mayor Roger Maki officially declared June 14 as “Senior Citizens Day” in Cloquet. While the declaration didn’t make it happen, there will be a celebration of senior citizens from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day at the Cloquet National Guard Armory, on Armory Drive, that will include free food and drink, a free photo booth, prize drawings and access to a number of community resources valuable to older citizens. Organizations including Senior LinkAge Line, Carlton County Volunteer Services, the Carlton County Historical Society, plus vendors offering discounts on their products. The event is sponsored by Reliable Insurance Agency and Northwoods Credit Union, and comes the day before World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Call Starr at 218-655-3376 for more information.

 
 

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