As we get older in life, we can find that we start needing support in everyday activities and begin relying on others more. For some, this can mean that elements of care need to be introduced into their lives, and in some cases it can introduce vulnerabilities. Protecting vulnerable adults, specifically the elderly, from neglect and abuse is paramount and can be achieved through properly implemented safeguarding measure. We’ve covered some of the primary principles of safeguarding for the elderly below to help you understand the wider context and how you can help protect the elderly from abuse.
Elderly abuse is typically the act of attacking or taking advantage of an elderly person who may find themselves in a vulnerable position. There isn’t one, single definition of what can comprise abuse, so it’s important to keep an open mind and decide if an action you’ve witness could constitute abuse based on context. Typical examples of elderly abuse can include:
It’s possible for anyone who comes in contact with an elder person to abuse them, but if the abuse is carried out over a longer period of time then it’s likely that the abuser is someone close to the vulnerable person. This could be a carer, employer, health or social worker, relative, or even other care home resident. Safeguarding procedures are typically in place within institutions, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to work together in order to protect the elderly from being access by potential abusers.
One of the difficulties surrounding elderly abuse is that some of the signs might be dismissed by people as symptoms of mental health issues or becoming frail. However, if you spot anything that causes concern it’s best to still raise this with the relevant parties. Signs of elderly abuse can include:
If you’re concerned about an elderly person being the potential victim of abuse, it’s crucial that you voice your issues. Talking to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member or healthcare professional, can help you decide the best course of action and raise any concerns. You can contact the local authority to report instances of abuse or neglect as safeguarding concerns. When there’s the potential for the elderly person to be in immediate danger of harm then you will need to contact the police.
Safeguarding is a shared responsibility, split between everyone who comes into contact with vulnerable people on a regular basis. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help to protect vulnerable people from abuse then take a look at our online safeguarding courses which can help you get a comprehensive understanding of safeguarding principles.
You can also check out our useful and informative downloadable resources, including this video on the six principles of safeguarding adults, and this checklist on spotting signs of adult abuse. If you work with vulnerable adults, you may find our safeguarding adults guide useful, too.