Did you know as older populations continue to grow, and as life-expectancy rates increase, the prevalence of elder abuse is also expected to rise? To combat this threat, every year on June 15, governments, international organizations, and elder care legal professionals in communities across the country, gather to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day is an opportunity to educate the public about the seriousness of elder abuse and to promote ways to prevent it from occurring.
One of the most overlooked aspects of elder abuse, is neglect. Neglect is a form of mistreatment of vulnerable older adults that results from inadequate attention, especially through carelessness or disregard for an older person’s needs. The National Adult Protective Services Association shares with us that there are four main types of neglect that are most often reported to Adult Protective Services. Let us share this insight with you here in our blog so that we may work together to prevent this type of harm from occurring.
1. Physical Neglect. This involves failing to attend to an older person’s medical, hygienic, nutrition or hydration needs, among others. It can include a lack of attention to important medications, injuries or wounds, bathing, dressing, and failing to provide enough support to maintain basic health. Physical neglect can be life-threatening if it is not addressed and prevented.
2. Emotional Neglect. Emotional neglect can be willful or passive, and consist of causing distress or anguish in an elder person by ignoring his or her emotional needs. An example might be isolating an older person for long periods of time for punishment or convenience. It may also result from not returning telephone calls or requests for assistance.
3. Abandonment. Abandonment involves leaving an elderly person to fend for him or herself without arranging for his or her needs to be met. This could result in effectively denying the person’s most basic needs on a daily basis. Unfortunately, research tells us that this is largely perpetrated by family caregivers who represent 60% of all elder abuse crimes.
4. Financial Neglect. Older adults, just like younger, have bills to pay. This includes rents and mortgages to maintain living situations, medical bills, insurance, and even food. When caregivers or other responsible people ignore these items, it amounts to financial neglect. This is often where financial neglect starts but the epidemic can quickly escalate when a caregiver or other person with responsibility over financial accounts steals money from the senior.
If you suspect an elder person is suffering from neglect, you can report your concerns. Our state maintains the Wisconsin Elder Adults-at-Risk Help Lines. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services shares that “every county has an elder (also known as elder abuse) agency that will look into reported incidents of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and self neglect. Call your County Help Line if you need to talk to someone about suspected abuse of an elder (age 60 and over). To report abuse of an adult age 18 to 59, contact your county agency.” Do not wait to learn more and gain the knowledge you need this June to help both yourself and the seniors you love.