The National Institute of Justice offers multiple explanations as to why elder abuse occurs, but the Institute admits that researchers started exploring this issue only recently. Surprisingly, the criminal justice field gave little attention to the mistreatment of elders until the last decade or so. There are many gaps in our understanding of what motivates people to abuse the elderly.
Possible Causes of Elder Abuse
Experts in the field suggest that there are connections between elder abuse and other forms of interpersonal violence. The researchers offer these reasons as possible explanations as to why elder abuse occurs:
- The people in the abuser’s circle have taught that you can get what you want using violence.
- The abuser does not feel as if he or she gets the value they deserve from the older person.
- The abuser and their family use violence to solve problems.
- The one mistreating the elder person tries to maintain control and power in the relationship through coercion.
- The family member who abuses the older adult resents being dependent on them for money or shelter.
- The elderly parent reinforces the abuse or neglect by saying that he or she was not a good parent, so he or she deserves the mistreatment.
- The older adult does not have someone with whom he can talk about his finances and who can keep an eye on his assets and accounts.
- The senior might fear that if he or she asks for help, they will lose all of the rights to control their finances independently.
- An older adult with cognitive impairment might be too trusting of a close friend or relative and refuses to believe that the abuser would steal or misuse his or her money or assets.
There are likely many additional reasons why people commit elder abuse. As more research happens in this field, we will learn more about the motivations for abuse of the elderly.
Reasons for Abuse in Long-Term Care Facilities
Elder abuse in elderly care centers, like nursing homes, assisted living, and residential care facilities, can have a different set of motivations. Some of the causes of elder abuse in an institutional setting include:
- Some abusers are drawn to the professions of caregiving and nursing because those fields provide the opportunity for the person to commit abuse. Vulnerable nursing home residents are at the mercy of the nursing and caregiving staff who have power and control over the residents. A person who enjoys hurting others can have a wide variety of “captive audience” victims at a long-term care center.
- Frustration of the staff about difficult situations, like dealing with dementia patients who can be aggressive and unkind, can lead to abuse of the patient. Better training of the staff members by the facility can help prevent these situations. The workers need to learn non-harmful strategies to address challenging situations.
- Most of the hands-on care in long-term residential facilities get performed by the lowest-paid employees. Financial stress at home can cause a worker to have a “shorter fuse” at work, leading to abuse and financial exploitation of the residents.
- Many nursing homes do not employ enough people to provide an acceptable level of patient or resident care. When a staff member is doing the work of two people, he or she has to rush through his or her duties. A worker can become impatient and angry, and emotions can escalate resulting in the mistreatment of the residents.
- Some people who commit financial exploitation of the elderly in care homes would never shoplift or run a scamming operation outside of the facility. When an older person leaves cash or jewelry sitting out in plain view, a dishonest person might help themselves to the item.
- A surprising amount of the abuse that happens in long-term care centers happens when one resident mistreats another resident. If you suspect that another resident is harming your loved one, you should talk with the administrator and insist on an investigation. The facility has a duty to keep residents safe from harm.
These are a few examples of why elder abuse occurs at a nursing home.
How to Get Legal Help for Your Mistreated Loved One
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm takes on tough cases, fighting for the rights of elderly people who get abused. We work hard to get our clients all the compensation they deserve for the harm they suffered. You should not have to pay for the treatment your loved one needs if he or she suffered injuries or losses through no fault of his own. The abuser should be responsible for the losses, not you.
We handle elder abuse cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that our legal fees will come out of the settlement proceeds or court award at the end. You will not have to come up with a fee deposit for us to help you.
Call us today at (800) 842-6336 for a free consultation. There is no obligation. We do not get paid until you win.