With thousands upon thousands of elders still being abused in America alone it is one of the country’s biggest epidemics. As a matter of fact the statistics for elder abuse go into the hundreds of thousands of cases in one year. And one of the saddest aspects is that the abuser is often a family member, usually a child of the abused or the spouse of the elderly victim. Elders are also abused by some caretakers or even people out in public.
Experts say that the abuse begins when the elderly have become partially or wholly dependent upon the family. Financial burdens, limited living space and extra effort to tend to the elderly push some people over the edge. But many people abuse the elderly simply because they want to intimidate them. The intimidation can then lead to the elderly signing over his government check or even purchasing extra items for a family member – by way of force. The violence usually starts out by bullying but becomes full scale with the elderly person becoming an abuse victim at home.
Abuse comes in many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, financial or even neglect. Of the reported cases elders have been physically beaten, made to feel like a terrific burden, raped, starved and even robbed. Since elders often depend upon their torturers for their welfare they tend to stay hush-hush about the abuse. It’s estimated that four times as many cases than are actually reported are happening right now.
Those who are not the abuser but do witness the abuse can call their state’s APS hotline to report the crimes. A caseworker is immediately assigned to investigate the charges. If the elderly person is in extreme danger a worker can arrive within 24 hours. The problem is that the victim is often too afraid to tell the caseworker what is really happening. The elderly person may deny or even defend the abuser for fear of having no where to live.
If the victim will not cooperate the worker cannot force him or her. But if the caseworker has noticed what appears to be bruises or other injuries he or she can take matters into their own hands by calling the local law enforcement and removing the victim from the home.
All 50 states now have stricter laws against harming the elderly. Although the laws vary from state to state penalties are now much more severe. In addition, many agencies are getting involved in lowering the number of cases of elder abuse by training police officials and medical personnel to spot the problem and by conducting campaigns to make the general public more aware of the situation.
If you know of an elderly person who is being abused do not hesitate to call help for the victim. You could actually end up saving his or her life. Abuse can escalate and leave the victim seriously injured or even dead, unless someone steps in to help.