Individuals who are 65 years of age and older are susceptible to financial, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. There are various risk factors that increase the risk, and dementia is a main one.
People with dementia are vulnerable to abuse because people take advantage due to the cognitive impairment, which also makes it difficult for the elderly individual to recognize and report the abuse.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, it is common for caregivers to abuse their dementia patients. In fact, one study showed that almost 50% of caregivers neglect or abuse their patients. Of this abuse, 60% of it is verbal, 14% is neglect and between 5 and 10% is physical. Another study showed that 20% of those who care for dementia individuals feared that they could become violent while caring for them.
Mistreatment of dementia patients is more common if the patient has physical assault and psychological aggression behaviors, and the caregiver has emotional issues such as anxiety and depression.
Signs of abuse
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are numerous signs that indicate abuse. The easiest ones to identify are usually physical, and common ones include fractures, bruises, abrasions, pressure marks and burns. Neglect is a common form of abuse, and signs of this may include unexplained weight loss, bedsores, poor hygiene and ignored medical needs.
Signs of emotional abuse include social withdrawal, depression, unexpected quietness and withdrawal from daily activities. It also helps to observe the relationship between a caregiver and individual with dementia, as arguments and tense conversations are also signs of abuse.
Anyone who notices these signs should report the suspected abuse so an investigation can begin.