Over recent years, the term “Elder Abuse” has increasingly become a more familiar phrase to hear in regards to our elderly loved ones. It is a very sad and disheartening reality that some seniors face later in life. It is important that we are aware of what is considered elder abuse and advocate for our elderly community when necessary. We will be defining what qualifies as senior citizen abuse, what mandatory reporting is, and how you report abuse if you are confronted with it.
What is Senior Citizen Abuse?
Also referred to as “Elder Abuse”, senior citizen abuse is the neglect, abuse, or exploitation of a senior 70 years of age or older. These can include physical abuse, neglecting of their basic needs, financial theft or manipulation, verbal abuse, and even sexual abuse. One of the most obvious forms of abuse is physical, verbal, or sexual abuse. Outward signs of bruising, cuts, or broken bones may not just be from a fall or an accident. Although some seniors may be too embarrassed to admit they are a victim of abuse, those “falls” may actually be injuries sustained from harm from another caregiver. Verbal abuse is a little harder to acknowledge unless you personally witness the abuse or the senior confides in you, but be sure you are listening so that you can identify it. Also, some seniors for one reason or another are seen as a burden to the ones who are supposed to care for them and can be left without adequate housing, food, or clothing. They may not mentally or physically be able to care for themselves due to a disability, and are neglected of proper self-care assistance from their caregivers. Finances are also a huge aspect of elder abuse that may not be easily seen. Unfortunately, some family members or other close relationships may take advantage of an elder’s trust or mental state and steal money or other assets. This can be accomplished either by verbal manipulation and convincing the senior to release a part of their assets or through legal paperwork presented as something that it truly is not. These can include Advance Directives, Personal Wills, Credit Cards, and even Reverse Mortgages to name just a few.
Mandatory reporting is where an individual or professional is required to report signs of abuse to local authority within 24 hours of being made aware of the alleged abuse. People who are required to report include caregivers, medical professionals of all kinds, public service representatives, members of clergy, and many others. For a full list of mandatory reporters click here.
How do I report?
If you find yourself in a situation where you believe senior citizen abuse is taking place, call your local law enforcement. You can also place a call to the Colorado Adult Protection Hotline at 720-944-2994.
When you report be sure to provide as much information as possible. Helpful information will include:
- – Name and address of the at-risk adult
- – Description of the alleged abuse situation and what you personally observed
- – Extent of the abuse
- – Name or description of the alleged abuser
- – Any additional information you can provide. The more the better.
If you believe you may know a senior at-risk for elder abuse, do not wait to report. It is vital that you report within 24 hours so that potential abuse can be prevented before causing more harm to the senior.