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Dependent adults can be especially vulnerable to abuse

Adults who depend on caregivers in order to have a good quality of life can be physically dependent, emotionally dependent, or both. With dependence comes an intrinsic amount of vulnerability that can make adults at risk for abuse and neglect.

If you have a loved one who is dependent on care, you may be concerned about their risk of neglect. In addition, you may have had observations that give you a cause for concern. In this situation, it is important that you take the time to understand what type of treatment counts as abuse, and how it can be recognized.

What type of acts count as dependent adult abuse?

While abuse can come in many different forms, many people think about abuse as being solely physical through actions such as hitting or punching or even pinching.  Physical abuse is a very big issue, but other types of abuse can be more subtle and therefore harder to identify.

For example, psychological abuse can cause a dependent adult to be depressed, extremely fearful or anxious. However, they may not be able to communicate the abuse they are suffering. Additionally, when a dependent adult is being financially exploited, they may also be threatened so they do not report this. This could mean that they actively try to conceal this abuse from their loved ones out of fear of retribution.

How prevalent is dependent adult abuse in the United States?

It is difficult to accurately establish the extent of abuse occurring toward dependent adults. However, one study has estimated that around 500,000 Americans suffer from abuse and that only 16 percent of these abuse cases are reported.

How can I recognize signs of abuse in a loved one?

Any noticeable change in behavior could potentially point to signs of abuse. For example, if a loved one goes from having a joyful and relaxed personality to being fearful and anxious much of the time, you should look into the reasons why this is the case. Additionally, if they are suffering from unexplained ill health or repeated injuries, this should be cause for concern.

You should not delay taking action if you know of a vulnerable adult who may be subject to abuse.