Unfortunately elder abuse is an increasingly common occurrence.  The five common areas of elder abuse are defined as follows:

Physical Abuse:  This involves the use of force on an elderly person to cause harm or injury.  Physical abuse also includes the mishandling of medications which may cause pain or distress.

Psychological Abuse:  Continual threats, harassment, and verbal confrontation are examples of psychological abuse.

Sexual Abuse:  Dementia and confusion cause victims to be unable to consent to sexual contact.  Any non-consenting sexual contact with a victim is defined as sexual abuse.

Neglect:  Neglect is directed at the care giver for the elderly.  An individual must have access to necessities such as food, water, shelter, clothing, and personal hygiene.  Failure to provide these essentials creates an incident of criminal neglect.

Self Neglect:  If an individual is unable to maintain care of themselves to the extent of causing harm to themselves or others, it is often defined as self neglect.  This abuse is often documented in establishing guardianship or residency and is rarely with criminal intent.

Financial Exploitation:  Unfortunately, criminals often prey on elderly individuals due to their mental state.  Attempting to obtain financial information, misuse of funds by a caregiver, wrongfully obtaining property, or specifically targeting elderly victims for scams or fraudulent services are examples of this form of elderly abuse.

What to look for?
In elder abuse cases, often the victim is unable to freely communicate issues.  Individuals outside the home may be able to deduct issues from a combination of changes in the home or victim behavior.  Common signs of abuse may include, but are not limited to the following:

Unusual bruising or physical marks
Sudden change in behavior
Changes in behavior toward specific caregivers
Bruising near the genitals or hidden injuries
Sudden interest in sexual topics
Poor personal hygiene
Medical conditions progressing with no signs of treatment
Inability to maintain doctor appointments
Hazardous living conditions
Changes in caregiver's behavior
Sudden isolation of the victim, through their own accord or the caregivers
Change in financial status
Inability to explain finances or expenses
Misuse of power of attorney documents

If you have information regarding elder abuse, please contact 9-1-1 and report the incidents to a police officer.  

There are many agencies and resources to assist in the care of an elderly person.  The Missouri Division of Health and Senior Services is advantageous in obtaining information regarding care for seniors, government assistance, and long term solutions.  The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) is also a useful resource in obtaining information regarding elder abuse. 

Contacting the Adult abuse prevention hotline at 1-800-392-0210 will assist in reporting Elder Abuse.