Elder abuse is the abuse of an older person by means of physical, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse. It also includes neglect. Older people are very vulnerable to any type of abuse, especially those who are unable to take care of themselves. The abuser can be a complete stranger, however quite often it is someone who is known to the person like a care giver, nurse, social worker, friend, neighbour or family member.
There are many reasons why abuse occurs with older people. The main reason being however is simply because they are more vulnerable, frail and they cannot retaliate. Due to this some cases of abuse are purely opportunist. In other cases it can be where there is a history of domestic violence within the family, or the person looking after them has a history of a mental disorder.
The older person may be frightened to report the abuse if it is their carer, fearing things could get worse or that they will be left totally alone. The symptoms to look out for are physical signs like bruises and cuts. Bed sores, poor hygiene and weight loss which could indicate they are being neglected. If they are being abused they may appear withdrawn and depressed.
Elder Abuse is more common in women over the age of 70 years old.