Six Elder Abuse Myths

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There are many misconceptions about how, why and how often abuse occurs.

Myth No. 1: Most elder abuse occurs in nursing homes

Fact: Most elder abuse occurs by family, trusted friends, lawyers and doctors.  Want examples, go to www. and read the article about the hospital to rehab scam.

Myth No. 2: If an older person is being abused physically, it will be obvious.

Fact: Physical abuse and mental abuse is often invisible. Think about it, as our skin gets thinner bruising occurs so easily who can tell the difference between an accident and an intentional battery.

Myth No. 3: Educated people don’t fall for scams.

Fact: Educated seniors have emotions and if someone who sounds like their grandson calls for $1000 they’re likely to give it to them.  Scams are focused at the senior’s heart strings not their brain.

Myth No. 4: If older people say they are not being abused, it didn’t happen. 

Fact: Seniors are embarrassed when they’re abused.  Imagine having to admit that your lawyer scammed you for a gift in your will or that your daughter was so angry she shoved you.  Further, the fact that you are “vulnerable” might mean your next stop is a nursing home.

Myth No. 5: Elder abuse is no big deal.

Fact: One in 10 older adults in the U.S. is abused and close to 90% comes from family.  The biggest abusers are family, trusted practitioners (doctors and lawyers) and caregivers.  Amazingly, child abuse and senior abuse are recognized as grave concerns but far fewer resources are devoted to prosecuting and preventing elder abuse.

Myth No. 6: Caregivers who abuse do so because they are stressed. 

Fact: Caregiver stress is real. But blaming elder abuse on stress shifts the responsibility away from the abuser.  As hard as it is to care for an elder loved one, (Dementia in particular) most of the instances are where the abuser is dependent on the older relative, i.e. living in their home and saying they’re providing “care”.

With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 each day, we need to begin to have national attention placed on this issue.  It’s real and very soon it will affect us!