Elder abuse as a significant problem across the United States. One of the biggest questions people have is how we can address elder abuse in the most appropriate and effective manner possible to prevent it from hurting more people in the future.

Elder abuse can be difficult to talk about, and that is a problem. When people can’t speak out, or when people feel like they won’t be heard, there’s a higher risk of them getting into serious trouble. Older people often experience social isolation. Combined with the potential for cognitive impairment, it is understandable that many cases of elder abuse go unrecognized.

The National Elder Mistreatment Study has reported that one in ten older adults struggles with psychological, physical, financial and/or sexual abuse. Elder abuse not only causes struggles in daily life. It can cause the elderly to deteriorate more quickly physically than if they were cared for properly. It can also result in a shocking decline in emotional health. Victims of elder abuse have a high risk of death compared to those who have not been mistreated.

What can we do to prevent elder abuse?

Law enforcement may have to get involved. Elder abuse is addressed through prevention and response. It is important to prosecute those who harm others while at the same time responding to calls quickly to prevent further injuries from occurring.

Prevention isn’t enough to stop every case of abuse from happening. Ultimately, it is up to family members to keep an eye on their loved ones and to do research on all people that their loved ones will come in contact with. While elder abuse victims may need law enforcement, it is family members, friends and neighbors who could help stop incidents from occurring and who could recognize them soon enough to remove their loved one from an abusive environment.