Experts estimate that at least 10 percent of older adults have experienced elder abuse — a broad term that covers physical, psychological or sexual abuse; neglect; and financial exploitation.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these cases go unreported.
"Fear, embarrassment or disability often can prevent older adults from speaking up," says XinQi Dong, MD, MPH, a geriatrician and associate director of the Rush Institute for Aging. But not bringing attention to the situation can keep seniors in harm's way.
If you are a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor of an older adult, you can help prevent or put a stop to abuse by keeping a watchful eye.
These are the types of abuse, and possible signs that an older adult might be experiencing them:
If you had a stroke or a hip fracture, you wouldn't think of not getting treated. And the impact of elder abuse is just as significant.
Dong urges older adults and those who care for them to discuss any concerns about suspected abuse with a doctor or an anonymous hotline.
"If you had a stroke or a hip fracture, you wouldn't think of not getting treated," he points out. "And the impact of elder abuse is just as significant."
Older adults who experience abuse don't just have poorer quality of life. They are also more likely to visit the emergency room, end up in the hospital, and die from heart disease and other causes.
If you are experiencing abuse — or suspect someone you know might be experiencing it — talk to your doctor or use one of the following numbers:
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