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Common Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is one of the growing problems in the country. The following article shall take you to the concept of elder abuse, its types and the signs and symptoms to identify the same.
Neha Rajan Deshmukh
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Ted went to John's place that evening. John's old granny opened the door. She asked Ted to have a seat and quickly went inside her room. John came a minute later and both of them began chatting. Ted asked for a glass of water. John screamed at top voice and ordered his granny to get one. Ted kept staring for a while. He was in a weird position to talk. For a minute, he couldn't understand what is John up to. The next moment, granny arrived with a glass of water in her hands that shivered as if it was extremely cold. Ted noticed that granny wasn't normal today. There was something wrong with her. The way she was dressed, the way she walked, the way she opened the door and the way she held the glass of water was surely beyond normalcy. There were certain bruises on her hand that she hid with her coat. On being asked about them, she said nothing and quickly left the room. Somewhere down the lane, Ted knew what must have happened...
Elder abuse is one of the fastest growing problems in the country. Every year, thousands of cases are registered and many of these go unnoticed. Seniors are manhandled and abused in every second house. It seems that people have forgotten to respect and honor others. If one way doesn't work, the other is tried. All of this only for the sake of money, property and to pay for addictions.
Types of Elder Abuse
Abuse in any form is wrong. There are many who cheat on money and emotions. Above all, abusing an elder physically or sexually is also observed. Abuse in any form means a complete disrespect of an individual's dignity. Not only elders, but children, women and even animals are abused in many ways. Out of these, elder abuse is one such sin that is increasingly observed these days. Following are the types of domestic violence against the elderly.
  • Emotional: Emotional abuse can be verbal or non verbal. Yelling at an old person, blaming him for things that he is not responsible for, humiliating him in front of a guests, making fun of him, verbally abusing him are all types of verbal abuse. A non verbal abuse includes isolating the person, ignoring him, not considering him in any decision that a family takes or making rude faces at him.
  • Physical: As the name suggests, physical abuse includes causing burns or injuries, thrashing, beating or hitting them.
  • Financial: Financial abuse involves stealing an elder person's money or fraud against his/her bank accounts, not giving him money for his daily necessities or claiming his money in an illegal way.
  • Sexual: Sexual abuse involves rape or sexual assaults, forcing him/her to watch pornographic movies or videos or having any kind of sexual contact with the person without his consent.
  • Healthcare: Health care abuse involves delays in regular medical check ups, not giving him prescribed medicines on time or at all, not treating him medically if ill, asking for more than the actual amount of the medical bill or committing a fraud involving health insurance.
Signs and Symptoms
You can clearly understand if a senior is being or has been abused by looking for the following warning signs:
  • Injuries, bruises or burns on the body
  • Broken bones or spine
  • Nervous breakdown
  • Depression or an unhappy mood at regular intervals
  • Frequent suicidal attempts
  • Poor state of health due to lack of necessary medication
  • Apathetic or restless behavior
  • Confused, helpless and hopeless behavior
  • Ragged clothes or loss of jewelry or riches that he/she once possessed
  • Extreme reactions like laughing at a moment and crying the next minute
  • A strong hesitation to talk to guests or any other outsider for that matter
  • When the members in the family prevent the senior from communicating to anybody in person
  • When the family prevents the elder from visiting a doctor even in the case of an illness
  • When a medical report says that the person has been sexually assaulted and the elder tries to hide it
  • Certain changes in the house like an elderly person's room being shifted to a guest room or even to the basement
  • When the family or a person in particular, talks of the elder as a burden
  • When you find that the elder is compelled to sign on certain legal documents, not knowing what they are for
An Effort from Your Side
As stated previously, every year numerous such cases are registered. The reasons behind it are truly selfish. One has to bear in mind that every individual in the society has an equal right to live, choose and decide. Nobody can ever tell or compel an elder or any other person for that matter, to do certain things. He is free to decide what he wants. He can have his own likes and dislikes and is free to pursue them. Abusing him physically, emotionally, financially or by any other means is illegal according to the law. It can land someone in jail for minimum of one year. In case of financial frauds, the company can sue the person who has been involved in it and thus punish him with a penalty of the lost amount. Above all, it is not only about being illegal but being morally wrong. If you ever have an encounter with an abused elder, do not just sympathize with him but teach him to stand for his rights and retaliate. He can take the help of NCEA (National Center on Elder Abuse) and oppose this violence. He can approach the court and seek justice. And if, you find a family that is responsible for the helpless condition of the elder, better not keep mum. Tell them that such a kind of behavior is not worth forgiveness.
Lastly, all I would say is a granny, grandpa, father, mother, father-in-law or a mother-in-law can be the most loving and compassionate people ever. Treat them with respect and dignity. All they need is a little love, care and support. Also, you shouldn't forget the fact that you are in this world today because they decided to bring you here. Finally, one last advice would be - Don't do it, it is shameful...