How you treat your elders speaks volumes about your character. Most of us pay older citizens respect and care deeply for their well-being. After all, don’t we want to be treated in such a way once we reach our later years?
Unfortunately, not everyone places such a high value on treating older citizens with respect. The prevalence of elder abuse in our society is still much too strong, and it is often the case that elder abuse goes unreported. But there are a number of studies and statistics available to give us a clearer picture of how abuse occurs. Although it is not pleasant to see the numbers on this form of abuse, it is an important topic to explore if we hope to see real change and keep some of our most vulnerable free from abuse.
What Are the Statistics on Elder Abuse?
- Roughly 10 percent of people aged 60 and older who live at home experience abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also says that this figure is likely a low estimate due to unreported abuse.
- The National Council on Aging says that up to 5 million elderly people are abused every year.
- NCA also points to a study that suggests only one in 14 cases of abuse is actually reported.
- Abused elders are at three times the risk for death compared to those who aren’t abused.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
While many elders suffer abuse in their own homes, others suffer abuse in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. These institutions have been increasingly under fire for the negligence with which they treat residents.
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide:
- As many as 50 percent of nursing home attendants and nurses have admitted to abuse or neglect of elderly patients.
- Over 40 percent of nursing home residents reported that they have been abused.
- Over 90 percent of nursing home residents reported that they have been or have witnessed neglect in their facility.
CBS News reported that:
- Roughly 20 percent of elderly people in nursing homes have been abused at the hands of other patients.
- Around 75 percent of that abuse is verbal, while the remainder is in the form of physical abuse.
Looking for Signs of Elder Abuse
In order to identify abuse among older adults, we should look out for warning signs, including:
- Physical Injuries – This can include bruising, cuts, fractures or any other form of unexplained injuries.
- Emotional Indicators – If an elder shows unexplained signs of depression, anxiety, hopelessness or fear, it could be an indication that they are a victim of abuse.
- Signs of Neglect – This might include malnourishment, dehydration or a lack of proper hygiene. If a room or a patient is consistently showing signs of being soiled or dirty, they are likely not being provided with the proper care.
- Infections – Without adequate medical care, an elderly person might be at risk for picking up an infection from other residents for from medical equipment used by attendants.
These are just a few signs, but there are obviously many more. We have to be vigilant about the possibility of abuse by asking questions and monitoring the condition of our loved ones.
The statistics on elder abuse give us insight into just how poorly some of our older citizens are treated. It is up to each of us to take action if we believe that elder abuse is taking place. In doing so, we can make our country a safer place for our parents, grandparents and for all of us who might someday need care in our later years.