This is an unpleasant subject, and more common than anyone wants to admit. Adult abuse may occur with anyone over the age of 18 who is vulnerable in some aspect. A vulnerable adult could be someone who stays in a licensed facility (hospital, nursing home, group home, or residential facility), someone who receives personal help, or an adult who has a physical, mental or emotional impairment.
What is abuse? It is a maltreatment; physical, emotional or sexual abuse, caregiver neglect or financial exploitation. Examples of abuse are: hitting, biting, burning, threatening, sexual contact (by a provider or unwanted sexual contact by someone) and taking or stealing money or possessions, or not providing necessary food, shelter, or clothing.
According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, 35,877 vulnerable adults were reported in 2014 to have experienced maltreatment. The National Coalition against Domestic Violence estimates 2.1 million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological and other forms of abuse or neglect.
It is important for us to be aware of this concern in our society. Many of us know vulnerable adults or may have loved ones in a facility where this kind of maltreatment could occur. It is essential for all to be aware of adult abuse – listen and seek to advocate for these vulnerable adults. Any person who perceives someone may be experiencing maltreatment must report this abuse to authorities. People mandated to report abuse include health care providers, pastors, and teachers. There are adult protection resources in every Minnesota County. The Public Health Department can direct calls.
Maintaining contact with our vulnerable population is important. It is easy to think they are being cared for by someone, but they need contact with others (neighbors, friends and family). Listen and watch for any signs that may indicate abuse. It is a matter of Christian citizenship.
Blessings and Peace, Shirley Hess, Parish Nurse