What is elder abuse? In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder.
Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse and abandonment are considered forms of elder abuse. Self-neglect is also considered mistreatment.
Who is at risk? Elder abuse can occur anywhere; in the home, in nursing homes or other institutions. It affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures and races. Studies reveal that women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized. Dementia is a significant risk factor. Isolation, mental health and substance-abuse issues of both abusers and victims – are also risk factors.
Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean and appropriate clothing.
Lack of medical aids (glasses, walker, teeth, medications)
A person with dementia left unsupervised
A person confined to bed left without care
A home cluttered, filthy, in disrepair, or having fire and safety hazards
A home without functional amenities; refrigerator, stove, adequate heating/cooling, etc.
Look for untreated pressure sores, infections, dehydration, malnourishment, multiple falls, elopement, and aspiration pneumonia.
Lack of amenities which victim could afford
Vulnerable elder/adult “voluntarily” giving uncharacteristically excessive financial reimbursement/gifts for needed care and companionship
Caregiver has control of elder’s money but is failing to provide for elder’s needs
Vulnerable elder/adult has signed property transfers (Power of Attorney, new will, etc.) but is unable to comprehend the transaction or what it means
Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, or other
Caregiver isolates elder (doesn’t let anyone into the home or speak to the elder)
Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, overly concerned about spending money, or uncaring
Inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores or burns
Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
What should you do if you suspect abuse? Report your concerns. Most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. The agency receiving the report will ask what you observed, who was involved, and who they can contact to learn more. You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions.
To report suspected elder abuse or dependent-adult abuse in a nursing home or long-term care facility, contact The Peck Law Group, APC toll free at 1-866-999-9085 or at our website www.thepecklawgroup.com.
Source: National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) – Red Flags of Abuse.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.