Many elderly rely entirely on family or other trusted individuals to help them. Whether it is physiological or psychological, as people grow older they tend to need guidance. The dependence upon caregivers or family members makes an older person more vulnerable for abuse.
For example an older person relying on her children to provide meals and transportation and make financial decisions finds it difficult to complain when one of her children takes advantage of her. If for instance the child takes her money, hits her or is neglectful in caregiving, the parent may be threatened with loss of support from the child if the parent complains. The child may also use threats of violence to keep the parent in line.
It is estimated that 5% to 10% of elderly Americans are suffering abuse. But nationwide only about 10% of it is ever reported. Much attention has been focused on abuse in nursing homes but most of the elder abuse in this country is at the hands of family members in the home. Most states have laws protecting the elderly from abuse.
Here is a description of the classifications of adult abuse.
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse, stealing money or changing title on assets
- Active and passive neglect by caregivers -- "Active neglect is the willful failure by a caregiver to fulfill care-taking functions and responsibilities. This includes, but is not limited to, abandonment, deprivation of food, water, heat, cleanliness, eyeglasses, dentures, or health-related services. Passive neglect is the non-willful failure to fulfill care-taking responsibilities because of inadequate caregiver knowledge, infirmity, or disputing the value of prescribed services."
- Self-Neglect, which means an individual is failing to care for his or her own self needs.