Elder abuse is any abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust. Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses – as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.
The number of senior citizens in our city continues to grow and new forms of elder abuse and exploitation constantly appear. Just like everyone our elderly population has the right to be safe and needs to be embraced and protected by our community:
Did you know?
- Around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year (via who.int – World Health Organization)
- In 2020 there were 20,929 elder abuse allegations in Harris County (via dfps.states.tx.us – Department of Family and Protective Services)
- From 2002 to 2016 over 19,000 homicides occurred (via cdc.gov)
- In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses. (via ncoa.org – National Council on Aging)
- Rates of elder abuse are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year (via who.int -World Health Organization)
Recognize the Forms of Abuse
It is crucial to understand the different types of abuse that occur amongst the elderly population as well as recognizing the signs of abuse to help prevent our loved ones from victimization.
- Physical Abuse: Any intentional use of force that results in serious illness, injury, pain, and function Signs: Can include but are not limited to bruises, pressure marks or sores, broken bones, abrasions, and burns
- Emotional Abuse: Any form of verbal or nonverbal psychological maltreatment that results in inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress. Signs can include withdrawal from normal activities, low self-esteem, appears depressed or withdrawal, seems scared, or hopeless, self-injury, acute mood swings, and changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Sexual Abuse: Any non-consensual contact of any kind. Signs can include bruises or injury to the genital area which may present as difficulty moving or sitting, signs of PTSD, agitation, socially or emotionally withdrawal, and suicide attempts.
- Neglect/Abandonment: Elder neglect is when any caregivers or other responsible parties fail to provide necessities such as food, shelter, health care, and/or protection. Signs for neglect can include loss of weight, displaying signs of trauma like rocking back and forth, acting agitated or violent, ceasing to participate in activities typically enjoyed, unkempt appearance, and unsanitary living conditions. Abandonment occurs when a caregiver or responsible party permanently abandons an elderly in their care. Signs of abandonment can include the absence of necessities, untreated or unexplained worsening of medical or mental health conditions, inadequate or unsafe living environment, animal or insect infestations, dehydration, or malnutrition.
- Financial Exploitation: Any unauthorized use of an elderly person’s money and/or property. Signs can include forging signatures, forcing an elderly to sign documents, stealing property or money, false promises in exchange for money or property, and unauthorized credit card charges.
Elder Abuse Safety Awareness Tips
Abuso De Personas Mayores Consejos de Prevención
Report Elder Abuse
Where to Report
- If you are in immediate danger, Call 911!
- Report to Adult Protective Services: 1-800-252-5400 or txabusehotline.org
Partners & Resources
- Adult Protective Services: investigates abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults who are elderly or have disabilities and who live in the community. https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/adult_protection/
- Harris County District Attorney’s Office: dedicated to making our community safer through evidence-based prosecution and equal justice for all. This means guaranteeing a fair process to obtain a just result for the victim, the accused and the community in every case. https://app.dao.hctx.net/about-hcdao/mission-guiding-principles
- Harris County Justice Center: serves the complex and unique needs of senior victims of abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation. https://resources.harriscountytx.gov/Our-Services/Adult-Services/SJAC
- AARP Texas: AARP Texas works to help those age 50-plus live, work, and thrive. https://states.aarp.org/texas/
- FBI Houston: The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States. This includes our elderly loved ones. https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/houston
- AGE of Central Texas: helps older adults and their caregivers thrive as they navigate the realities and opportunities of aging and caregiving. https://ageofcentraltx.org/index.php/mission-and-vision/