News reports featuring children being abused are condemned and investigated by authorities. We condemn the abusers and push for their lawful punishments. But, aside from child abuse, the rate of elder abuse is increasing as time goes by. This is a part of abuse incidents that many of us ignore. Abuse can result from physical, emotional or sexual harm and causes long-term trauma not just for the victim but also for their family members and the community.
Usually, elder abuse happens in a household that suffers from alcohol or substance abuse. The impact of abuse can be short or long term, sometimes it results to grave physical injury and even death.
Elder abuse and maltreatment awareness should be part of our aims to uplift the spirit of our seniors. It is a single or repeated act or even a lack of appropriate action which causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse happens in the form of withholding food, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities to survive. For seniors, another common form of abuse is in the form of withholding medical care or lack of medicines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in the community. In addition to that, WHO also reported that the global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in the year 2050.
The increasing number is alarming and we should take action to lessen the incidents, punish the offenders and provide aid to those who were abused.
Elder abuse is not always recognizable. Some victims tend to hide what they experienced. Unlike kids who experienced abuse, seniors are more rational and have a sense of pride. For instance, an elder may not divulge that he is being abused because he’s protecting the name of the family and being investigated for such incident may cause a scandal. On the other hand, some victims may accept the abuse as a form of payment for the help that their family extends such as accepting them in their household.
Check unexplained changes in the body
A victim could go from being healthy to malnourished or from being outgoing to timid. Unusual changes can be drastic for some. In addition to that, be mindful of physical evidence such as abdominal or head injury, bruise, fracture, or burns.
Be mindful of the body language
An abused victim may avoid being surrounded by other people, even those who are dear to them. They try to avoid people who can easily notice any changes to their body and behavior.
Don’t set aside hints
Many abused victims have fears to share their experiences because of trauma. Also, they might avoid going on to details because of privacy concerns. However, most, if not all victims are giving hints and messages that they are being victimized. As a family member or close friend, you should keep those hints seriously.