Elder abuse, misunderstanding

Learn the warnings signs of elder abuse.

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Wally Pearce Elder Day Council Each year, June is the month dedicated to raising awareness for abuse of the elderly. The aim is to focus attention on the problem. It also seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by an aging population, and brings together senior citizens and their caregivers, national and local government, academics, and the private sector to exchange ideas about how best to reduce incidents of violence towards elders, increase reporting of such abuse, and to develop elder friendly policies Based on State of California statistics, nearly 200,000 older adults, 60-years of age and older, fall victim to elder abuse each year. Other than the victim’s age, elder abuse is a crime which is indiscriminate in choosing who it strikes. Factors such as one’s socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, educational background and geographic location do not provide an impregnable barrier against its broad, horrible reach. Elder abuse is defined as an intentional or knowing act, or failure to act by a caregiver or another person that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable elder adult. Types of Elder Abuse According to National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elder abuse can be characterized into five categories. These include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation and neglect. Sexual Abuse is defined as nonconsensual touching, fondling, intercourse or any other sexual activity with an elder person. Physical Abuse is defined as inflicting or threatening to inflict physical pain or injury to an elder person. Physical abuse can include acts such as hitting, biting, beating, choking, suffocating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching and burning. Emotional Abuse is defined as inflicting mental pain, verbal assaults, threats, harassment, humiliation or intimidation. Emotional abuse can be both verbal and non-verbal acts. Emotional abuse includes, calling names, insults, isolation and seclusion, prohibiting access to various resources and threatening. Threats can come in various forms such as telling the elder person that they will never be able to go home (from the nursing home) or that they cannot see friends or family if they do not do things or act in a certain way. Financial Exploitation is defined as illegally without consent taking, misusing, and cancelling funds, property or assets to benefit someone other than the elder person. Financial abuse includes forging of checks, use of their credit/ATM cards, coercing to surrender finances, use of their state funded resources or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney. Neglect is defined as a caregiver’s failure to provide a person with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and protection. Neglect includes but is not limited to not providing proper nutrition, hygiene, environment appropriate clothing, and failing to provide a safe environment. Neglect can pose a serious risk of compromising health and safety to an elder person. Warning Signs of Abuse Many times, there are signs of elder abuse that go unnoticed. Having signs of abuse does not necessarily confirm abuse but could be an indicator of a possible problem that requires a heightened awareness. Sexual abuse: warning signs may include sudden and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, bruising, cuts and sores in or around the breasts, genitalia, inner thighs, and buttocks. Physical abuse: warning signs can include unexplained injuries such as bruises, fractures, cuts, sores, burns and pressure marks. Emotional abuse: may present as unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in mood and behavior, self-isolation and withdrawal from previously engaged activities. Financial abuse: warning signs include a sudden or slow onset of an inability to afford amenities. The person may be excessively gifting money to an organization, a friend, a family member or companion. A caregiver, family member or Power of Attorney may have control of the person’s finances, and still the needs of the elder person are not being met. Financial abuse also occurs when the person has signed away property, money, or assets but is unable to comprehend what the transaction means. Neglect: warning signs include lack of basic hygiene, appropriate clothing, food, and medical care. The elder person may be unkempt, have an odor, bedsores, sudden unexplained weight loss or dehydration. The person may also be left unattended or in bed without proper care. Their home or environment may be dirty, cluttered, in disrepair, lack heating, water, electricity and appropriate appliances. With any type of abuse there are also some warning signs not directly related to the person. These may include actions of the caregiver such as isolating the person, being verbally or physically aggressive or frequenting financial institutions. The Standard of Care for Reporting Abuse There are specific guidelines and regulations for the reporting of suspected abuse within nursing homes. Under federal regulations set forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, persons such as physicians, caregivers, persons responsible for the care or custody of the elder, licensed staff, clergy and ombudsman are required to report any suspicions of elder abuse. Within the federal regulation (F224), the resident within the facility has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse. The facility, in which the elder person resides, must develop and implement written policies and procedures prohibiting the mistreatment, neglect, abuse, and misappropriation of resident property. Each state maintains its own requirements related to reporting, investigating, and preventing elder abuse. Anyone who resides in Yolo County, or is a City of Winters resident, who reasonably suspects that an older adult is the subject of suspected physical or financial abuse, neglect, abandonment, abduction, isolation, deprivation of goods or services or other treatment with resulting pain or mental suffering are eligible for Adult Protective Services (APS) support. Any person can make a confidential referral alleging abuse or neglect by calling Yolo County APS at 530-661-2727 or 1-888-675-1115. For those residing in the City of Winters, please call either APS or contact the City of Winters Police Department at 530-795-2261.]]>

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