June was Elder Abuse Awareness Month. While most people think that elder abuse solely involves physically hurting an older adult, there are many ways in which an elder adult can be abused. Here are the different types of abuse someone over the age of 60 can face:
Physical Abuse– Use of physical force that causes short or long term illness, body injury, physical pain, impairment, distress, or death.
Sexual Abuse– Forced or unwanted sexual interaction (touching or non-touching acts), including sexual acts done to someone who is not able to give consent;
Emotional Abuse– Verbal or nonverbal behavior that inflicts anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress;
Neglect– Not taking proper care of someone or protecting him or her from harm. Not meeting basic needs (food, water, hygiene, clothing, shelter);
Financial Abuse-The illegal, unauthorized use of the older adult’s finances/resources by the caregiver or someone else in a trusting relationship
It is easy to abuse certain older Americans when they have become vulnerable either through a lack of mobility or a decreased mental capacity. The abuse can take place in their homes, nursing homes, and other care facilities. This abuse is more frequent than we think, with one in ten Americans aged 60 or older being the victim of some type of abuse. Sixty percent of these abusers are family members. This abuse can be very harmful. There is a 300 percent higher risk of death among abused older adults compared to those who are not abused.
Elder abuse can happen to anyone, including famous people like Buzz Aldrin. The former astronaut and second person to walk on the moon has been in the news recently because he is currently in a legal battle with two of his children, Andy and Jan Aldrin, as well as with his longtime manager, Christina Korp, who say he is suffering from cognitive decline. They also say the new management of his company, Buzz Aldrin Ventures, is trying to manipulate Aldrin and gain control of his assets. His children are trying to become co-guardians of his affairs, so that they can control his finances and assets. Aldrin says he has never felt better and has had a physician sign an affidavit indicating that he can manage his own affairs, including his finances. Andy has withdrawn $475,000 from his father’s bank account over the past two years and both of his children have spent $60,000 on Aldrin’s personal credit cards without his knowledge or consent. This is an example of the financial abuse that many elderly people are forced to suffer.
If you know of an elderly person who is in immediate danger, call 911 for the most expedient help. You can also look up your state’s local reporting number, government agencies, and state laws here. If you would like to contact one of our elder law attorneys, use our contact form or call our office at 412-471-3980 to speak to one of our attorneys and learn your options.
“Elder Abuse: Definitions” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 17, 2018). [Link]
Marina Koren, “What’s Going On With Buzz Aldrin?” The Atlantic (June 26, 2018). [Link]
“What is Elder Abuse?” National Council on Aging [Link]