Older Americans are often the targets of abuse. This is because they are often unable to make a complaint or are afraid to lodge a complaint.
Elder abuse is especially tragic because in many of these cases the abuser is in a position of trust; as a caregiver, a guardian, a trustee, or even a family member. By being aware of the signs of possible abuse and neglect, you can help protect abuse victims.
Some common signs of physical abuse include:
- Frequent unexplained injuries or complaints of pain without any obvious injury;
- Burns or bruises suggesting the use of instruments, cigarettes, etc.;
- Passive, withdrawn, and emotionless behavior;
- Lack of reaction to pain;
- Patient reports physical abuse.
Signs of sexual abuse include:
- Sexually transmitted diseases;
- Injuries to genital area;
- Difficulty sitting and walking;
- Fear of being alone with caretaker;
- Patient reports sexual abuse.
Some common signs of neglect include:
- Obvious malnutrition;
- Lack of personal cleanliness;
- Individual is routinely dressed in torn or dirty clothing;
- Obvious fatigue and listlessness;
- Person is begging for food or water;
- Person is in need of medical or dental care;
- Person is left unattended for long periods of time.
Abuse of the elderly is a crime. If you suspect elder abuse, whether its at home, in a nursing home, or anywhere else, contact your local police.
You should also contact the South Dakota Office of Adult Services and Aging at 605-773-3656, or the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 605-773-4102.
The Fraud Unit can also be reached by logging onto atg.sd.gov.
Elder Abuse Crime Statistics (Adobe PDF File)