Physical Abuse

Physical Elder Abuse

Physical Elder Abuse occurs when someone intentionally inflicts, or threatens to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or deprives them of a basic need.

Physical abuse can range from slapping or shoving to severe beatings and restraining with ropes or chains. When a caregiver or other person uses enough force to cause unnecessary pain or injury, even if the reason is to help the older person, the behavior can be regarded as abusive. Physical abuse can include:

  • Beating
  • Biting
  • Burning
  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Pinching
  • Pushing

It can also include such acts against the older person as over - or under - medicating, depriving the elder of food, or exposing the person to severe weather, deliberately or inadvertently.

Elder Sexual Assault

Elder Sexual Assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent is also considered sexual abuse. It includes, but is not limited to, unwanted touching, coerced nudity, sexually explicit photography and all types of sexual assault or battery, such as rape and sodomy.

Signals of Elder Physical & Sexual Abuse

Many physical symptoms presented in older adults may occur as a result of disease conditions or medications; however, they could indicate physical abuse. The appearance of these symptoms should prompt further investigation to determine and remedy the cause.

Marks from Physical Abuse

  • Bruises or grip marks around the arms or neck
  • Dismissive attitude or statements about injuries
  • Refusal to go to same emergency department for repeated injuries
  • Repeated unexplained injuries
  • Rope marks or welts on the wrists and/or ankles

Marks from Sexual Abuse

  • An elder's report of being sexually assaulted or raped
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections

Preventing Elder Abuse

The first and most important step toward preventing elder abuse is to recognize that no one - of whatever age - should be subjected to violent, abusive, humiliating or neglectful behavior. In addition to promoting this social attitude, positive steps include: educating people about elder abuse; increasing the availability of respite care; promoting increased social contact and support for families with dependent older adults; and encouraging counseling and treatment to cope with personal and family problems that contribute to abuse. Violence, abuse and neglect towards elders are signs that the people involved need help, immediately.

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