More than 5 million American seniors have reportedly experienced some type of abuse. Unfortunately, the rate among those with dementia is exponentially higher than other elder victims.

The main reason is because seniors with dementia struggle to communicate their feelings and experiences, or even remember what may have happened to them. Dementia can also make it harder to detect abuse because common reactions, such as extreme changes in behavior, can look like symptoms of the degenerative brain disease.

It’s an awful scenario that can best be prevented through education, vigilance and representation. Knowledge and education may be the best place to start to ensure you can protect the Florida seniors in your life from potential abuse. For starters, it is important for you to know there are various types of elder abuse including, but not limited to:

  • Physical – abuse that causes injury
  • Emotional – abusive language, threats, intimidation, and harassment
  • Sexual – threats or forced touching, including sexual activity
  • Neglect – failure to provide basic necessities, like food, water, and clean clothing
  • Financial – misuse or withholding of a senior’s financial resources

What you may not know, however, is that elder abuse is also perpetrated most often by people close to an older adult. This can include professional caregivers and family members. In cases of repeated abuse, the abuser is almost always well-known to the elder person.

In addition to pre-meditated abuse, like stealing money, other forms tend to arise from the demands of caregiving, where caring for an elder person with dementia can be so intense that some people give in to stress, frustration and abusive impulses.

Other risk factors include:

  • The elder adult’s own tendency toward verbal or physical aggression
  • The intensity of the elderly person’s illness or dementia
  • Isolation, where the older adult and their caregiver are alone together almost all the time
  • Depression in the caregiver
  • Substance abuse by the caregiver
  • Past caregiver history of domestic violence

If you are a family caregiver and you’re feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to seek help immediately. It’s common for caregivers to forgo their own health needs in favor of an elder loved one, but it can lead to disastrous results. It’s otherwise recommended to report elder abuse immediately, and consider contacting a qualified elder care attorney for guidance. Further, if you suspect abuse is occurring against an older adult do not wait to report it in Florida. You may click this link or call the toll free number 800-962-2873.