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What is Elder Abuse? A Look at Definitions & Recent Statistics

What is Elder Abuse? A Look at Definitions & Recent Statistics

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and other organizations dedicated to helping the elderly, around 10% of all Americans older than 60 years of age will be abused each year. The actual number could be much higher than this amount – which is already well into the millions – since it is feared that less than 10% of all elder abuse incidences are ever reported to others. How is it that elder abuse is so rampant? And why is there not more effort to stop it? The answer may lie in where and how it occurs.

Elder Abuse in the Home

Nursing home abuse occurs when elder abuse is carried out, either intentionally or inadvertently, by a nursing home or its staff members. This is usually the centerpiece of focus for calls-to-action against elder abuse. While nursing home abuse is a serious problem, it is believed that 60% of elder abuse incidents are caused by a close family member that lives with or regularly visits the elder. The abuse from a family member is less likely to go reported, as the elder may be more likely to rationalize it, or feel too intimidated to ask for help.

Different Forms of Elder Abuse

Physical violence is a devastating form of elder abuse but it is by no means the only, or the most prominent. Elder abuse can be difficult to spot and prevent since it can be carried out through a variety of methods, many quite subtle. Incidents of elder abuse might be occurring unbeknownst to even the abuser, who has not recognized his or her own neglectful behavior.

The many forms of elder abuse include:

  • Physical: Violent acts carried out against an elder.
  • Sexual: Coercing or forcing an elder to engage in any form of sexual or inappropriate activity.
  • Emotional: Using nonphysical means to attempt to harass, intimidate, or otherwise lessen the wellbeing of an elder; sometimes called mental abuse due to its roots in upsetting someone’s behaviors or self-esteem.
  • Neglect: Failing to provide an elder necessary care, food, shelter, and medicine, especially when it is carried out by an official caregiver or orderly, due to inattention; isolating an elder from social activities or communication is another form of neglect which can be intentional.
  • Financial: Taking advantage of an elder’s resources for personal gain, or stealing directly from an elder who cannot prevent it.
  • Denial: Intentionally taking away an elder’s necessities and against the wishes of that elder.

How to Act Against Elder Abuse

If you suspect that your elder is being abused, either by a family member or a nursing home attendant, you must act quickly to protect them from further harm. If the danger is immediate, you may need the assistance of the authorities to remove your elder from the situation safely.

Once your elder is out of harm’s way, contact Albuquerque nursing home abuse attorney Michael J. Doyle. We can help you learn your legal options, how to protect the rights of your elder, and discover if you are owed compensation. Call 505.219.2176 to schedule a free consultation today.


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