elder abuse (copy)

Old age lamentably renders many Americans vulnerable to elder abuse — whether physical, emotional, sexual or financial.

About one in 10 Americans 60 and older have experienced such suffering, the National Council on Aging says. One study found that only one in 14 cases are reported.

A report this year by a federal inspector general analyzed Medicare claims nationwide and concluded that 30,000 claims contained evidence of abuse or neglect. More than six in 10 of these claims happened in the beneficiaries’ home.

Help is available, however. State governments have hotlines to call to report suspected elder abuse. The 24-hour, toll-free numbers are 800-652-1999 in Nebraska and, in Iowa, 800-362-2178.

Physical signs of elder abuse, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says, include cuts, burns or bruises; dehydration or malnutrition; and soiled clothing or bedding.

Behavioral signs of abuse can include anxiety, agitation or anger; contradictory statements or implausible stories; or a hesitation to talk openly.

It’s abhorrent that any individual, after a long life, would suffer abuse. Let’s support our elderly loved ones and friends and be mindful to look out for indications they might be suffering from maltreatment.

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