“Honor Your Elders – They Show You the Way in Life.”
– Universal Alaska Native Value
What is Vulnerable Adult/Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that creates a risk of harm to an older adult. Many communities and individuals have different views of what makes someone an elder. For our purpose today, we define an elder as someone 60 or older. Abuse for anyone of any gender or age is never okay! However, there are certain people that are especially vulnerable. Alaska law defines vulnerable adults as a person 18 years of age or older who, because of incapacity, mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or confinement is unable to meet their own needs or to seek help without assistance.
Types of Abuse
Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that results in acute or chronic illness, bodily injury, physical pain, functional impairment, distress, or death. Physical abuse can include the acts of hitting, striking (with or without an object or weapon), beating, scratching, biting, choking, suffocation, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, stomping, pinching, and burning.
Sexual Abuse/Abusive Sexual Contact
Sexual abuse/abusive sexual contact can include forced or unwanted sexual interaction (touching and non-touching acts) of any kind with an older adult. This may include:
- genital contact
- contact between the mouth and penis, vulva, or anus
- penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object
- intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of genitals, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks
These acts are considered sexual abuse if they are committed against a person committed against someone who is not competent to consent.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
This looks like: verbal or nonverbal behavior that results in the infliction of anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress. Examples include behaviors intended to humiliate (e.g., calling names or insults), threaten (e.g., telling someone they will be placed in a nursing home), isolate (e.g., keeping away from friends or family), or control (e.g., taking away or limiting transportation, telephone, money or other resources).
This looks like: failure by a caregiver or other responsible person to protect an elder from harm, or the failure to meet needs for essential medical care, nutrition, hydration, hygiene, clothing, basic activities of daily living or shelter, which results in a serious risk of compromised health and safety. Examples include not providing adequate nutrition, hygiene, clothing, shelter, or access to necessary health care; or failure to prevent exposure to unsafe activities and environments.
This looks like: the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older individual’s resources by a caregiver or other person in a trusting relationship, for the benefit of someone other than the older individual. This includes depriving an older person of rightful access to, information about, or use of, personal benefits, resources, belongings, or assets. Examples include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions; use of coercion or deception to surrender finances or property; or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.