The elderly, especially those who are isolated, disabled, or mentally disabled are most vulnerable to elder abuse. Caregivers and family members should be aware of the six types of abuse and watch for signs of elder neglect. If there is suspicion of abuse, families should immediately contact their local police or Nevada’s Adult Protective Services (APS) and Elder Abuse Hotline at (702) 486-6930.
Types of Elder Abuse
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is the non-accidental use of force that causes pain, injury, or impairment to an elderly person. It is not limited to an actual physical assault where you can see bruises, cuts, or other evidence of injuries. The inappropriate use of restraints, drugs, or confinement against a senior’s wishes is also a type of physical abuse.
2. Psychological or Emotional Abuse
This type of elder neglect can take place in two forms. Verbal abuse includes yelling or threats to intimidate, humiliation, or scapegoating a senior. Nonverbal abuse, where the senior is ignored, isolated from friends or activities, or terrorized to incite fear.
3. Sexual Abuse
Any form of sexual contact without a senior’s consent is considered sexual elder abuse. This is not limited to physical sex acts. It can also include forcing a senior to watch pornographic material, sex acts, or forcing them to undress.
4. Neglect by Caregivers
Abandonment or neglect by caregivers is elder neglect that can either be intentional or unintentional. Often it occurs when a caregiver does not understand or is in denial that the elderly person, they are caring for needs more care or medical attention than he or she is receiving.
5. Healthcare Fraud and Abuse
Professional caregivers and healthcare professionals can carry out healthcare fraud and abuse against the elderly. This type of abuse could include:
- Medicaid or Medicare fraud
- Over or under-medicating a patient
- Charging for healthcare services that were never provided
- Overcharging for medical services
- Receiving kickbacks from other providers for unnecessary referrals
- Providing fraudulent treatment for medical conditions
6. Financial Exploitation
Financial exploitation against the elderly is the unauthorized use of funds or property. A caregiver or even an outside scam artist could steal money or items from the senior. Other forms of financial abuse could involve identity theft, signature forgery, or misuse use of a senior’s credit cards, bank accounts, or checks.