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Elder Abuse: Do You Know The Signs?

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Terry Kornman, FiftyForward Victory Over Crime Outreach Coordinator, spoke with Stacey Bonner, Family Services Coordinator, about elder abuse.

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Begin Transcript

Stacey Bonner:        Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Stacey Bonner with the Child and Family Center.  Every year many older adults are victims of elder abuse.  Many victims are people who are older, frail, and vulnerable and cannot help themselves.  Terry Kornman, FiftyForward Victory over Crime Outreach Coordinator has joined me to discuss elder abuse.  Terry, how would your define elder abuse?

Terry Kornman:       Elder abuse really takes on a lot of different categories.  The acts are intentional.  The abuser knows they can be harmful to the victim.  It can be physical abuse where they are using force to get the elder person to do what they want.  It can be sexual abuse which would be non consensual sexual contact with the older adult; neglect where the caregiver or the person who is responsible to take care of that older adult does not provide the basics like food, shelter, or medical care; exploitation which includes using money or assets of the older person which is supposed to be used for their care and their needs  it  would be using those for their own needs; emotional abuse and that would be inflicting some type of mental pain or anguish on the older person and that is done by using intimidation, threats, and humiliation things like that; abandonment, the person that is supposed to be taking care of the vulnerable adult basically abandons taking care of them.  They just quit doing it  they want to relinquish themselves with that responsibility, and then, there is self-neglect.  It also  comes under that category, and that is where elder person fails to do the  essential  things for themselves like self-care, bathing, good hygiene,  cleaniness around them, they may not eat, things like that, so all that comes under the umbrella of elder abuse.

Stacey Bonner:        You named a lot of types of elder abuse.  How common is elder abuse?

Terry Kornman:       Well, I was looking at some resources that I have.  One said 4-6% of the elder population is abused, another one said 10%, but there are probably over two million cases of older Americans who are victims of abuse.

Stacey Bonner:        Where can elder abuse take place?

Terry Kornman:       In the home where their caregivers or family members may come to visit the older person or in institutions of nursing facilities places like that, adult day care, it could occur there, any place where the older adults are in groups or in their own home setting.

Stacey Bonner:        What can an individual do to stop or prevent elder abuse?

Terry Kornman         Well, I think the main thing is to really try to recognize the signs of it. If it is physical abuse, be kind of  tune in if you see any bruises or scrapes, lot of times somebody will grab an older adult by both hands, so you might have bruises on both arms kind of in the same place, things like some people try to confine the older adult and they may use ropes around their wrists to confine them and to keep them from getting out their bed or something so you would see some type of abrasion or bruising on the wrists, then something like financial exploitation recognizing that the older adult is not getting maybe some of the medical care they need, when you know that money is available for that, and the caregiver is saying there is no money, or especially adult children that may have power of attorney noticing that they are huge sums of money taken out of their bank account or assets gone, things around their home that may be missing, things like that.  So, it is really being aware of some of the signs that something is not quite right going on, and try to stop it.  Tennessee is a mandatory reporting state.  You are mandated by law to report any suspicions of elder abuse to adult protective services.

Stacey Bonner:        Okay, so they can just call their number directly.

Terry Kornman:       Yeah.  Yeah.

Stacey Bonner:        Is there anything else you wanted to add, Terry?

Terry Kornman:       Yes.  Also, if you know  an older  adult who you feel is being abused, or in some way  taken  advantage of financially or any other way, you can call FiftyForward’s Victory Over Crime Program we are  a program that provides free services to older adults who have been victims of crime including abuse or financial exploitation, scams, and fraud.

Stacey Bonner:        Thank you, Terry.

Thanks for listening.  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast by clicking the “Add New Comment” link at the bottom of this page.  If you have a story suggestion, please email us at health.wellness@vanderbilt.edu or you can use the “Contact Us” link on our website at healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu.

 

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Posted on Friday, July 11, 2014 in Child and Family Center, Wellcasts and tagged ,

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