The Unspoken Reality of the Elderly and How to Flip the Switch
Oftentimes, adults look forward to retirement. People idolize this part of life, the time when they are no longer expected to provide a substantial amount of work to their job and community. It is supposed to be a time to enjoy life, carefree and live the American Dream.
Sadly, this is not the type of life that many elders face. In fact, every year over five million elderly people are victims of abuse. Yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that only 4% of elder abuse is reported. Due to becoming weaker with age, many elders cannot defend themselves from their abusers, leaving them helpless.
- What is elder abuse and how common is it?
Approximately 1 in 10 elderly Americans suffer from abuse, whether it is in their own home or in an assisted living center. Elder abuse has only increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in nursing homes. COVID-19 created health-related anxiety, isolation, and lower incomes for the residents and staff of the nursing homes and the families of the residents. This has caused many elderly people to be neglected by their families and nursing home staff, leaving them completely alone.
According to a
presentation created by
Home Instead Senior
Care Outer East, there
are six types of elder
and healthcare fraud.
Out of these types of
abuse, elders are more
likely to experience
physical and emotional
abuse. In a study
conducted by WHO,
approximately 1 out of 3
nursing home staff
Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse elderly fall victim to. Physical abuse is more likely to occur in nursing homes. 29% of all nursing home abuse reports are physical.
However, nursing homes are not the only place in which elders face abuse. Elderly people are also likely to fall victim to abuse in their own homes. “Outside of nursing homes, spouses or partners made up nearly 60% of all perpetrators of physical abuse...” (Nursing Home Abuse Justice)
Gender, social class, and health problems can increase a person’s odds of suffering from elder abuse. Elderly women are more likely to be victims of abuse. In fact, 2/3 elderly abuse victims are women. People who rely on Medicare for healthcare are more likely to be placed in a toxic and abusive home. People who suffer from
Disabilities, mental or physical, are also more likely to become victims of abuse. 2. Signs of elder abuse
Although abusers and their victims may be able to hide their unspoken reality, there are still many signs that one could look for to stop and prevent another elder falling victim to abuse.
If you believe
Someone is suffering
from physical abuse,
look for “hard to
bruising, and marks
on the person’s body.
One article states
that if the elderly
person is living in a
nursing home or with
a caregiver and you
are refused visitation,
this is also a sign of
elder abuse. The
abuser will want to
isolate the victim as
much as possible to
limit the possibility of
While physical abuse
may be easier to
spot, there are still signs you can look out for when someone is suffering from emotional abuse. If you notice a change in behavior in the elderly person, they might be victims of emotional abuse.
Changes in behavior include:
-Withdrawal from hobbies and/or social events
-Increase in anxiety
-Increase in depression
-Increase in paranoia
Neglect is also a common type of elder abuse,
that can be prevented by noticing the signs.
When an elderly person must rely on someone
else to meet their daily needs, it is easy for
them to become victims of neglect.
If you notice an elderly person experiencing
an unhealthy amount of weight loss or fatigue,
be sure to check that their dietary needs are
being met. Additionally, if you notice that the
person’s living environment is hazardous or
extremely unclean, check to see if their
caregiver is properly providing for them.
Financial abuse may also be prevented if you
look for the signs. If you notice substantial
amounts money being withdrawn, yet they do
not have the money to pay for their bills or
medication, keep a look out for people who
may be financially abusing the elderly.
- Effects of elder abuse
Victims of any type of abuse suffer both short
term and long-term effects. Physical abuse
can cause broken bones, internal bleeding,
and in extreme cases, death.
An elder who is a victim of physical abuse is
three times more likely to be hospitalized
and/or die than one who is not victim of abuse.
Due to frequent hospitalizations, many families are left in financial ruin trying to cover their elder’s medical expenses. Research estimates that roughly $5.3 billion in medical costs come from treatment of physical elder abuse.
This is not the only money that is lost due to abuse. The rise of elder financial abuse has caused a yearly loss of a minimum of $36.5 billion.
Psychological abuse can leave the person with long-lasting anxiety and depression, leaving the person in a deep state of loneliness. Research supports that the elderly have the highest suicide rate in any age group in the nation, depression being a main cause.
- Facts and Statistics Summary of Elder Abuse
★ over five million elderly people are victims of abuse
★ only 4% of elder abuse is reported
★ Approximately 1 in 10 elderly Americans suffer from abuse
★ 1 out of 3 nursing home staff confessed to emotionally abusing their residents ★ 29% of all nursing home reports of abuse are physical
★ Outside of nursing homes, spouses or partners made up nearly 60% of all perpetrators of physical abuse
★ 2/3 elderly abuse victims are women.
★ Research estimates that roughly $5.3 billion in medical costs come from treatment of physical elder abuse
★ elder financial abuse has caused a yearly loss of a minimum of $36.5 billion
- How to Report Elder Abuse
Knowing the signs of elder abuse can save the lives of many. However, knowing the signs is not enough. To put a stop to elder abuse, people everywhere need to be more proactive about reporting what they see and hear.
One study shows that only 1 out of 25 cases of elder abuse is reported. Knowing more about elder abuse and how to report it is extremely important if we want to put an end to this epidemic.
o The 6 Types of Elder Abuse (slideshare.net)
o 6 Signs of Elder Abuse in Seniors with Dementia – DailyCaring o A Proclamation on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2022 | The White House
o Elder abuse (who.int)
o Elder Abuse | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)
Ways to Report Elder Abuse and Support Services:
▪ Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-752-6200
▪ National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311) ▪ Eldercare Locator
▪ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Office for Older Americans
www.consumerfinance.gov/practitioner-resources/resources-for-older-adults ▪ National Adult Protective Services Association
▪ Each state has their own hotline for abuse to call, just go online and type: ________’s (your state) + Elder Abuse Hotline
Carla, et al. “6 Signs of Elder Abuse in Seniors with Dementia.” DailyCaring, 5 Oct. 2021, https://dailycaring.com/signs-of-elder-abuse-in-seniors-with dementia/#:~:text=Warning%20signs%20include%3A%201%20Any%20kind% 20of%20threatening%2C,in%20alertness%2C%20or%20unexpected%20depre ssion%20More%20items...%20.
“Elder Abuse.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health, and Human Services, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/elder-abuse.
“Elder Abuse.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/health-topics/abuse-of-older-people#tab=tab_1.
Home Instead Senior Care Outer East Follow. “The 6 Types of Elder Abuse.” Share and Discover Knowledge on SlideShare,
“Nursing Home Abuse Statistics: Get the Facts You Need.” NursingHomeAbuse.org, 25 Oct. 2022, https://www.nursinghomeabuse.org/nursing-home abuse/statistics/.
“A Proclamation on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2022.” The White House, The United States Government, 14 June 2022,