Sadly elder abuse happens more than one would think. And it appears as though the numbers are rising instead of going down. It is unfortunate. Wikipedia describes ‘elder abuse’ as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” It also goes on to say, “It includes harms by people the older person knows or has a relationship with, such as a spouse, partner, or family member; a friend or neighbor; or people that the older person relies on for services.”
My father fell victim to elder abuse, not once but twice — the first time by a wife, her daughter, and the daughter’s two grown sons. The second time was by his niece. I do not call this woman my cousin, for I no longer have a cousin. Where I come from, a family does not treat family like that-period!
I won’t go into the whole story with both circumstances but will give you the highlights. His last wife and her daughter, and the daughter’s two sons, took him for $265,000+. His wife and her daughter kept him doped up and got him addicted to Xanax. They let him drink while giving him Xanax, knowing he’s an alcoholic. When all doped up, they got him to sign his paid off truck over to one of the grandsons. Which he does not recall ever doing. And dad claimed never would.
There were other situations, very similar to this, that went on. One of the sons slit my father’s wrist and then told our family that he did it to himself. To know my dad, one would know he would never do that to himself. He always said suicide was the cowards way out. They controlled his medications, and he was on a lot that he DID NOT even need to be taking. Such as a medication to treat high blood pressure, yet he’s always suffered from low blood pressure. So, many times, he would collapse, and at the time, his wife played it off as part of one of his ‘illnesses.’ But when I’d ask which one, she was unable to tell me.
As for his niece, we calculated from all of his bank statements that I got from dad’s bank, that she stole about $68,000+ from him. She traveled on his money, shopped on his money, bought rounds of drinks at bars for everyone with his money, ate out on his dime. When they traveled, they would drop dad off with people, that I wouldn’t let watch my dogs while they were out living large on dad’s dime! My dad was willingly paying her rent, to live with her and her partner, yet they still helped themselves to his bank account.
We found evidence where my father paid a car payment of his niece’s. As well as a few amounts for car insurance–he hadn’t driven a vehicle in about seven years! There were charges for XM radio, and hair and nail appointments, to name few. We even suspect that dad either paid for or contributed to the purchase of her second motorcycle. We didn’t have concrete proof of that one, though.
She would use his medicine against withholding it for whatever reason. For example, if he asked for his medicine too many times, interrupted her and her partner while they’re watching a movie, etc.
My father told me once that he had upset his niece one night, she put him and his duffle bag out in her truck and drove him down a dark, country road, at 2:00 in the morning. She then had him get out of the truck and told him if he walked east, he would run into a military base that was about 20 miles away. He was 78 years old — not a streetlight in sight, nor any other traffic. That’s when we made plans to bring him home. And one of the reasons we bought a home in Florida.
Both times, he was not allowed to carry any of his own money. A man, who worked all his life, in the United States Coast since he was 17, was treated like no family member should treat another family member-ever. I did not know how bad elder abuse was until it happened to my father.
We all see on television, what human beings will do to one another, but when it’s family harming family–well, that just blew my mind! Still blows my mind. And all these individuals believe they’ve done nothing wrong-till this day!. These are the things I knew about. I can only imagine what else was going on at the time. And, with us living up in Indiana made matters more difficult to find out what was going on. All of the above, I learned about after they happened.
Unfortunately, about 90 percent of these abusers are spouses, partners, grown children, and/or other family members. And the elder that is being abused, often won’t say anything because they don’t want their loved one/abuser to get into any trouble. In my father’s case, the elder was told no one else wanted him. And he’s wind up on the streets if he wasn’t careful.
Types of Abuse
- Confinement – isolating or restraining an individual against their wishes
- Deprivation – the refusal or failure to provide a senior with such life necessities such as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety, etc.
- Emotional and Psychological Abuse – Verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, social isolation, and harassment.
- Financial Abuse – the misuse or withholding of elders’ finances, assets, or properties.
- Physical Abuse – inflicting pain or injury
- Sexual Abuse – any sexual activity, fondling, touching, intercourse with an older adult without consent, forced upon, threatened, or unable to understand what is going on.
One study I read stated that American seniors 60 and over, 1 in 10 have been privy to elder abuse. Other statistics claim that 5 million American seniors get abused each year. Sadly, approximately only 1 in 15 cases of abuse get reported.
Another study showed where 7 – 10% of elderlies suffer from at least one incident of abuse in a given year. And it appears to happen more often to women, then men.
Elder abuse goes on in healthcare facilities, both short and long term care, as well as a nursing home. A 2009 study showed where 44 percent of nursing home residents are abused, and 95 percent have experienced neglect. Those numbers are downright scary!
Elder abuse has become a silent issue. No one talks about it. Elder abuse affects the elders dignity at a time when they’re having a problem with their dignity because of dealing with getting older. Coping with new or worsening health issues, and some of those issues are leaving many of them unable to do things they’ve been doing for years and years. Aging is an adjustment of itself, for many. Not to mention the possible loss of a spouse/adult child/parent/etc., and so on. Elder abuse affects the individual’s security, pride, and can even cost them their lives.
Yearly the cost of what elders lose financially is estimated to be around 37 billion dollars annually. What the hell has happened to our society where people think it’s ok to do this to their grandmother, father, aunt, brother, etc.
In some states, doctors and nurses must report any suspected abuse; it is mandatory. But what about those that are either threatened into silence? Or those that aren’t taken to medical appointments and such?
I’m sure elder abuse isn’t anything new, I honestly don’t know. But when it happened to my father, the emotional scale that I was on, it just truly floored me. It tore me up. And with his wife, there was absolutely nothing I could do legally because they were married.
They had my dad so scared; he never said anything for over six years! His niece had him convinced that my dad’s family and friends wanted nothing to do with him. They would threaten to kick him out and tell him he’d have to live on the streets! I could go on and on with what these despicable people did to my dad, but they’re not worth it!
We’ve all heard about physical abuse and sexual abuse with children, domestic abuse, etc. But I had never heard of elder abuse, to the extent that I have read. Thus why it is considered a silent problem, my uncle, my father’s brother, I found out, use to steal his mother’s, my granny’s social security check, as well as the money her sons would send home for her to spend on her needs/wants. Not for their sibling to steal and waste on drinking, gambling, or drugs!!!! How can you do that to your mother? My granny raised nine children and did so on her own. I’m sorry to say it, but this whole family is this way, except for 1 of my aunts. Nothing but a bunch of moochers, cons, and liars!
There are many vital warnings, especially if there are duplicates of any of the signs below, I would most definitely take action. I immediately removed my dad from his niece’s house and brought him to the home that we bought in Florida. Before this time, my husband and I were living in Indiana and was getting different stories from other family members. They would call me, tell me all kinds of horrible stories, yet they would do nothing. I was informed often that it wasn’t their place. Really?
Below are some warnings for different kinds of abuse:
- a lot of arguments
- broken bones
- inadequate food
- lack of enthusiasm
- markings/bruises around the breasts or genitals
- medical needs not met
- poor hygiene
- stressed relationships
- sudden changes in finances
- unwanted weight loss
Elder abuse is not going away; in fact, it is becoming an alarming, dangerous, serious issue.
Please be sure to check out the resources links below for help with reporting elder abuse. There are many ways to report elder abuse, but very few know ‘how.’
With my father, I was instructed to call family services, who then sent out a caseworker to contact my cousin. I also went to the police, and dad had hired an attorney. So you can also check locally. Try contacting your state attornies office. I’m not saying the state attorney will help you, but they can sometimes point you in the right direction. The one here in Florida took my statement so that dad was in their system, but he legally had to wait for the police report. And that’s a whole other story.
When all else fails, there are other resources you can check out. Please, if you have links to other resources, send them to LCEndahl@enjoyingthesecondhalfoflife.com, and I will get them up immediately. It’s time elders were protected, so that they can live their lives the way they should have been living it from the very beginning,
- Center for Elders and the Courts – (CEC)
- Department of Human Service – Division of Aging Sevices
- Eldercare Locator or 1-800-677-1116
- National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA)
- National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
- National Council on Aging (NCOA)
- The National Domestic Hotline
- The United States Department of Justice – State Elder Abuse Statues