Crimes Against Older Adults Link to Home Page

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Signals of Elder Physical &
Sexual Abuse

Marks That Cannot Be Explained Medically May Signal Elder Abuse

Many physical symptoms presented in older adults may occur as a result of disease conditions or medications – however, they could indicate physical abuse. The appearance of these symptoms should prompt further investigation to determine and remedy the cause.

Marks from Physical Abuse

  • Bruises or grip marks around the arms or neck
  • Rope marks or welts on the wrists and/or ankles
  • Repeated unexplained injuries
  • Dismissive attitude or statements about injuries
  • Refusal to go to same emergency department for repeated injuries

Marks from Sexual Abuse

  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • An elder's report of being sexually assaulted or raped

The first and most important step toward preventing elder abuse is to recognize that no one – of whatever age – should be subjected to violent, abusive, humiliating, or neglectful behavior. In addition to promoting this social attitude, positive steps include educating people about elder abuse, increasing the availability of respite care, promoting increased social contact and support for families with dependent older adults, and encouraging counseling and treatment to cope with personal and family problems that contribute to abuse. Violence, abuse, and neglect toward elders are signs that the people involved need help – immediately.

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Physical Elder Abuse

Physical Elder Abuse occurs when someone intentionally inflicts, or threatens to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or deprives them of a basic need.

Physical abuse can range from slapping or shoving to severe beatings and restraining with ropes or chains. When a caregiver or other person uses enough force to cause unnecessary pain or injury, even if the reason is to help the older person, the behavior can be regarded as abusive. Physical abuse can include:

  • Hitting
  • Beating
  • Pushing
  • Kicking
  • Pinching
  • Burning
  • Biting

It can also include such acts against the older person as over- or under-medicating, depriving the elder of food, or exposing the person to severe weather-deliberately or inadvertently.

Elder Sexual Assault

Elder Sexual Assault is any unwanted, non- consensual sexual contact. Sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent is also considered sexual abuse. It includes, but is not limited to, unwanted touching, all types of sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photography.