Focus on elder abuse

This article focuses on elder abuse. Who is the abuser? What are the types of abuse? Why does the elderly accept abuse? What must I do if I suspect an elderly person is abused?

Who is the abuser? What does the person look like that abuses the elderly?

The elderly is mostly abused by a person with whom they have a close relationship - more often than not it includes a spouse, child, brother, sister or caregiver.

Types of abuse and how it can be identified

  • Physical abuse - Any action that cause physical injury or discomfort.
  • Sexual abuse - Any form of sexual contact or exposure without the consent and / or full knowledge of the elderly person.
  • Financial abuse - Coercing money or attaining of assets without the full knowledge, consent or willingness of the elderly person.
  • Psychological / emotional abuse - Any actions that leads to emotional anxiety or suffering by the elderly person.
  • Neglect - The withholding of care and basic necessities for physical and emotional well being of the elderly person.

Why does the elderly accept abuse and not report?

  • They are ashamed of what happened to them;
  • They feel helpless and powerless and do not know what to do;
  • They don't want to cause trouble for the offender that is frequently a family member;
  • They frequently rely on the offender (financial, housing, care);
  • Fear for institutionalising;
  • Fear for consequences of disclosure; and
  • Afraid of the offender.

What must I do if I suspect an elderly person is abused?

Contact a social worker: Reporting can by anonymous;

  • Pretoria and surrounding areas: Pretoria Care for the Aged - 012 542 2805;
  • Halt Elder Abuse Line (National): 0800 003 081; and
  • Report to your local police station under the Domestic Violence Act.

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