The first step toward reducing instances of elder abuse is learning the potential warning signs of mistreatment, neglect, and other exploitation. Once you are aware of what elder abuse is, then you can begin advocating for the rights of seniors. Elder abuse is shockingly common. The National Council on Aging reports that one out of 10 people over the age of 60 will experience some form of elder abuse or neglect.
As a society, we must address and reduce the prevalence of elder abuse through the intervention of the larger community and educate others regarding the issue. However, when dealing with family matters, it is important to recognize signs of elder abuse by regularly monitoring your loved one’s condition.
Know the Ways That Predators Abuse the Elderly
Society must reduce elder abuse. Senior citizens are some of society’s most vulnerable people. Social isolation, physical disability, and mental impairment (such as dementia) sometimes force them to rely on others for their care. Some elderly people are not always able to communicate properly, let alone understand when they are suffering from mistreatment.
According to the National Council on Aging, some common forms of elder abuse include:
- Sexual abuse.
- Physical abuse.
- Financial exploitation.
- Emotional abuse.
- Willful deprivation.
- Passive neglect.
It is vital to not dismiss the symptoms of these conditions as confusion or manipulation on the part of your loved one. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, seniors who face abuse and neglect in a nursing home are 300 times more likely to die prematurely than their counterparts who live elsewhere. As baby boomers age, we face an increasing rise of men and women living in nursing homes. To stop the prevalence of elder abuse, it is necessary to educate others on the seriousness of this issue.
Possible Signs of Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, and Neglect
Checking in often with your loved one at their nursing home is one of the best ways to monitor their condition. A victim of mistreatment may exhibit several possible symptoms of elder abuse, including:
- Signs of physical trauma, such as cuts, burns, bruises, scrapes, and lesions.
- Signs of anxiety such as recoiling from your touch, rocking back and forth, and acting restless.
- Confusion, which may be a sign of lack of sleep due to abuse-induced anxiety.
- An unkempt appearance, such as messy, uncombed hair and dirty clothes.
- Poor personal hygiene.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Uncharacteristic outbursts, especially if the individual is historically nonviolent.
- Withdrawing from activities they typically enjoy.
- Signs of depression.
- The presence of bedsores.
If you suspect that your loved one is enduring abuse or neglect, the first step to take is to ensure their safety. This could either include lodging a complaint with the nursing home administrators or removing them from the facility altogether.
How a Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Elderly Loved One
Many lawyers who take on elder abuse cases have a knowledge of resources and legal precedents.
After investigating your options, a legal team can:
- Meet with you and your loved one to document accounts of mistreatment.
- File your case immediately to make sure you comply with relevant statutes of limitation.
- Alert the nursing home to your case and request cooperation to interview any staff members or residents who may be of value to your loved one’s case.
- Collect relevant evidence (such as security tapes) to see if there is proof of abuse, neglect, or theft.
- Handle all legal responsibilities necessary to pursue a financial award on your loved one’s behalf.
One of the most important things you can do to support your loved one during this stressful time is actively listening to them and continuing to fight for their rights.
Seek Legal Help if You Suspect Elder Abuse or Neglect
If you suspect that a loved one is in life-threatening danger, you should immediately contact law enforcement. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services suggests that if your loved one has undergone abuse or neglect but is not in any urgent danger, you should contact Adult Protective Services (APS) for more information. Be sure to hold on to any communications with law enforcement or APS, as this may be useful in the legal process.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we understand how difficult it is to entrust the care of your loved one to another —and how it becomes even more difficult when they suffer abuse or neglect as a result. We want to ensure that your loved one is not harmed further.
When you work with us, you pay nothing up front, nothing out of pocket. We only charge you a fee if we reach a judgment or settlement in your loved one’s favor. Call (800) 842-6336 today to discuss your case with one of our team members.