June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation each year. However, there is no way to know how prevalent elder abuse really is because it usually goes unreported. The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that there were 24 unknown cases of elder abuse for every case that is known to programs and agencies.
What is Elder Abuse?
The major categories of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
Elder Abuse Victims
Anyone who lives long enough can become a victim of elder abuse. It can happen at home, in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutions. Nursing home abuse attorneys can help you get to the bottom of any alleged abuse and in some cases, get justice for your loved one. Learn more about nursing home abuse claims.
Outside of nursing homes and other institutions, perpetrators are often someone trusted, and very often family members.
Dementia is a major risk factor for elder abuse. According to the NCEA, in a 2010 study, 47% of participants with dementia had been mistreated by their caregivers. Caregivers often feel burdened by caring for individuals with dementia and experience problems of their own such as anxiety and depression. Those who display psychological aggression and physical assault behaviors, as a result of their dementia, are more likely to be victims of abuse.
Spouses are often guilty of elder abuse in relationships with a prior history of domestic violence. Adult children who are dependent on their parents due to mental illness, substance abuse, and other personality problems seem to be more likely to abuse elderly parents when they live with them.