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Elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person. Elder abuse takes many forms, including:
• Neglect or Isolation
• Physical abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Financial abuse and exploitation
• Emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats).
Elder abuse affects older people across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races and can occur anywhere when they are disconnected from social supports:
• In a person’s own home
• In nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutional settings
• In hospitals.
While any older person is potentially at risk of elder abuse, some are more susceptible to experience abuse or neglect than others.
Based on available information, women and people 80 and older are more likely to experience abuse. Factors such as dementia or poor physical health can increase older people’s isolation, which in turn puts people at greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect.
Some Common Risk Factors:
• Mental health or substance abuse issues of an older person and/or a perpetrator
• Social isolation
• Poor physical health.
Like other forms of interpersonal violence, elder abuse usually occurs behind closed doors. Many people who experience elder abuse are reluctant to report abuse because they may:
• Feel ashamed and embarrassed, particularly if a family member is the perpetrator
• Be afraid that the perpetrator will get in trouble
• Worry that they will be forced to live in a nursing home—and this sometimes happens
• Feel guilty or somehow to blame
• Be in denial that the abuse is occurring, or unaware that what they are experiencing is abuse or neglect
• Be afraid that if they report, the abuse will get worse.
How Can We Report Elder Abuse?
It is up to everyone to prevent and address elder abuse. Report suspected mistreatment to your local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman or law enforcement agency who can investigate the situation.
Programs such as Adult Protective Services (APS) and the Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are here to help.
For reporting numbers, contact Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 (eldercare.gov). If you believe that an older person is in a life-threatening situation, contact 911 or the local police or sheriff’s department.
Learn more about the issue. Visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website at ncea.acl.gov.
The Southern Oklahoma Development Association (SODA) Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman Program for the Bryan, Carter, Johnston, Love and Marshall Counties is available to help.
Contact Tiffany Wingfield, Rebekah Williams or Julie McBride at SODA Area Agency on Aging at 580-920-1388 or Senior Info. Line at 1-800-211-2116 or write to them at P.O. Box 709 Durant, OK. 74702.