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Elder Abuse Awareness Month is highlighted during June, and presents a time to recognize the ways many seniors are being abused, provide education on signs to look for, and share resources if someone you care about may be in danger.
Over half a million reports of abuse of elderly Americans are made to authorities each year but it’s believed that many more instances are never reported.
Elder abuse can take place in an older person's home. Caretakers in an institution can be the perpetrators. Scam artists can get at them over the phone, via computer or at their front door. Sadly, many cases of abuse are at the hands of family.
Abuse is not always actively done with force. It can also be neglect. The senior is not fed, not kept clean or warm, not kept safe, and/or not given proper medical care.
Don't turn your back, we all need to become more aware of signs when vulnerable people are mistreated. Here are questions to consider:
- Do you see changes in personality or behavior?
- Is there noticeable tension or friction between the older person and their caregiver?
- Has the older person lost weight? This can be a sign of malnutrition or dehydration because of not being fed properly.
- Are they dirty, or are their clothes dirty?
- Are they seen wandering around on their own when they shouldn't be?
- Do you see signs of violence like bruising on wrists or other parts of the body?
Not everyone who abuses the elderly will seem like bad people. Often they are just people who can't handle the pressures and responsibilities of looking after someone who is frail and unable to take care of themselves.
If you see something that looks like abuse may be going on, you can contact the Maine Office of Elder Services at 1-800-624-8404 (Voice) 711 (Maine Relay), who can provide or arrange for services to protect incapacitated and dependent adults in danger of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Calls may be made anonymously.