Social Isolation and Elder Abuse
In the time of COVID-19 we are home, remaining safely way from the Coronna virus.
For now, our Senior Centers are closed to visitors, most Adult Day Health programs are closed, grocery stores offer delivery and even libraries offer curbside pick-up. For older adults, interaction with others has become minimal.
June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Elder Abuse is any knowing, intentional or negligent act that causes harm (or a serious risk of harm) to a vulnerable adult perpetrated by a family member, caregiver or trusted friend. Elder abuse can happen to anyone-you, your family, friends or neighbors.
One of the leading risk factors for elder abuse is social isolation. Reports by the National Council on Aging have found that 60% of elder abuse and neglect is perpetrated by a family member and two-thirds of the perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
1 out of every 10 people over the age of 60, who live at home, report being abused. 60% of abusers are family members
If someone is in immediate danger call 911.
During COVID-19, individuals may find themselves confined to a home that is shared with their abuser. Where they once had an opportunity to get out of the home for awhile each day to attend the Senior Center, go shopping, or participate in Adult Day Health the opportunities to get out and interact with others has been reduced.
Older adults don’t seek help for all of the same reasons as younger abuse victims-fear, shame, isolation, and lack of resources. Their experience of abuse may be made worse by overall poor health, cognitive impairment and mobility limitations. The abuser may withhold medical care, assistive devices (cane, walker, hearing aid), medicine or withhold attention from other family members such as children or grandchildren. An abuser may even give too much medicine to ensure compliance with the abusers need for control.
In the age of COVID-19, just as we rally to deliver food to hungry, participate in “drive-by” birthday celebrations or cheer for our healthcare heroes, we MUST look out for our older neighbors. If you see something-say something. Does a neighbor’s home appear to have clutter covering the windows? Do they appear dirty and unkempt? Did you see the neighbor up the street wandering at night saying she needed to “go home?” Rhode Island law requires any person who suspects elder abuse, neglect, or self-neglect to report it to the Office of Healthy Aging 401-462-0555. The Office of Healthy Aging remains available to help.
We are ALL in this together!
The Office of Healthy Aging Adult Protective Services Unit is responsible for investigating complaints of abuse of Rhode Islanders 60 years of age and older by a family member, caregiver, or person with a duty to care for the elder.
Office of Healthy Aging
401-462-0555 or 462-3000
Statewide Elder Abuse Hotline
If you suspect a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility may be being abused contact the Rhode Island Department of Health, Rhode Island Attorney General and the Rhode Island Long Term Care Ombudsman.
Neglect or Abuse in a facility call:
Department of Health Facilities Regulation
RI Attorney General Patient Abuse or Neglect,
Medicaid Fraud & Drug Diversion Unit
401-222-2566 or 274-4400 x2269
RI Long Term Care Ombudsman