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Elder Abuse

The Administration on Aging says that hundreds of thousands of seniors are abused, neglected, and exploited by family and others every year. Many of the victims are vulnerable and depend upon others to meet their basic needs. Who is the abuser? A government study of elder abuse found that in 90% of the cases, the abuser is a member of the family. Two-thirds of abusers are adult children or spouses.

The term elder abuse describes one or more of the following activities:

  • Physical abuse means causing pain and/or injury by hurting, restraining, or sexually molesting a senior.
  • Sexual abuse is non-consensual (not agreed to) sexual contact of any kind.
  • Emotional and psychological abuse is causing distress by threatening, intimidating, and/or humiliating behavior.
  • Financial abuse is the use of a senior's money and resources, without consent, for someone else's benefit.
  • Neglect is the failure of caretakers to provide necessary goods and services, such as food and medicine.
  • Self-neglect is when an elderly person threatens his or her own health and/or safety in any way.

What to Look For—Signs of Elder Abuse

  • Personality changes
  • Whimpering, crying, refusing to talk
  • Unexplained or repeated bruises, fractures, burns and sores
  • Weight loss
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Dirty, disorganized living space
  • Confusion, excessive sleeping, signs of inappropriate sedation (too much medicine)

Reporting elder abuse follows the same procedures as reporting child abuse. Your call is confidential and should be directed to Adult Protective at the Department of Social Services. In most communities there is a hotline number. You do not have to leave your name. In Monroe County the adult protective hotline telephone number is (585) 753-6532. In case of an emergency after hours call (585) 461-5698. Adult protective referrals can also be made to (585) 753-5402. The government's Office for the Aging (AOA) recommends that if the abuse is serious, you should also notify the police.