The pandemic brought increased isolation for many older adults, so I thought it was important in 2021 to recognize June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. All health care professionals, including OTs, have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society. So take some time in June to review the requirements in your part of the world and make sure you are compliant with the laws in your community as well as the processes set up by your employer to report suspected elder abuse.
While the processes you should follow to report suspected abuse may differ, the signs that someone is being abused or exploited do not. According to the U. S. National Institute on Aging, women tend to be abused more than men, elderly who do not have family or friends nearby are more likely to be targeted, as are persons with a disability, memory problems or dementia.
Abuse takes many forms including:
The impact of abuse can manifest in many ways – sometimes subtle and some may even be attributed to normal aging. Victims may exhibit changes in behavior like disinterest in activities once enjoyed, difficulty sleeping, being uncharacteristically agitated or withdrawn. A victim may also show signs of trauma including weight loss or rocking back and forth.