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What Is Elder Abuse?

Posted on September 16, 2019 in Elder Abuse,Personal Injury

Elder abuse is a pervasive problem that impacts many of the world’s vulnerable senior citizens. It is an issue that takes place in thousands of nursing homes, elder care facilities and hospices. A perpetrator may target an elderly person for many reasons: physical weakness, helplessness, mental impairments, power imbalances or money. Victims of elder abuse can suffer significant physical and emotional harm. Serious cases of elder abuse could cause a decline in the victim’s health or mental status, ultimately resulting in wrongful death. If you beleive your loved one was a victim of elder abuse, contact a Las Vegas elder abuse attorney at Claggett & Sykes Law Firm. We can help you hold perpetrators accountable.

Types of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can refer to any form of intentional maltreatment against an elderly person 65 years or older. The federal government has passed laws such as the Elder Justice Act to create protection programs for seniors, yet elder abuse is still a widespread issue in the country. Victims of elder abuse may experience one or multiple types of abuse simultaneously. Four main types of elder abuse exist, along with elder neglect.

  • Physical elder abuse means to knowingly inflict injury or physical pain onto a senior citizen. Signs of physical abuse can include frequent injuries, bruises, burns, bite marks, strap marks, fall injuries and traumatic brain damage.
  • Mental abuse can stem from verbally harassing or berating an elderly person. It could also arise from abusive actions such as isolating, confining or abandoning an elderly individual. Signs can include mood changes, withdrawal, anxiety and depression.
  • Sexual abuse is forcing an elderly person to perform or engage in sexual activities. Unwanted or inappropriate touching, fondling, groping or sexual intercourse is sexual abuse. Signs of sexual abuse can be physical and/or emotional.
  • Financial abuse is to exploit a senior for financial gain. Types of financial abuse include fraud, scams, deceit and the misuse of a victim’s resources. Sudden or unusual changes in bank accounts or wills could point to financial abuse.

Elder neglect may not be intentional, but may still cause significant harm to the victim. Neglecting an elderly person’s physical or psychosocial care can result in issues such as infections, bedsores, mental health declines, depression, malnutrition, dehydration, health problems, muscle atrophy and an unkempt appearance. Neglect could result in penalties against the nursing home or caregiver even without an intentional form of elder abuse present.

Elder Abuse Statistics

It is difficult to say how many senior citizens suffer from elder abuse in America. This is a widely unrecognized issue due to a lack of reporting. Elderly victims may not come forward with reports of abuse due to mental incapacities or fear of retaliation. Available data, however, places the prevalence of elder abuse around 1 in 10 elderly Americans. Studies suggest that only 1 in 14 victims report abuse to authorities.

In almost 60% of known elder abuse cases, the perpetrator is a family member, such as a child or spouse. In other cases, the perpetrator may be a friend, caregiver or nursing home employee. Those closest to the elder are most likely to become culprits. Elders who suffer any form of abuse have a 300% higher risk of death than those who are treated well. Elder abuse can significantly affect a senior citizen’s health, wellness and prognosis for the future.

Elder Abuse Effects and Prevention

The effects of elder abuse can be drastic and wide-ranging. Elder abuse victims can suffer devastating physical injuries that impact them for life. They may also notice mental health declines, worsened dementia or lose the will to live. Some abused seniors may become suicidal. The loved ones of the elderly need to be vigilant in preventing abuse. Friends, family members and caregivers should be on the lookout for potential signs of abuse, neglect or wrongdoing. If they notice something amiss with an elderly person, they should say something to the authorities. Reporting elder abuse right away could save a life.