With a huge population of aging Americans now living in long-term care facilities, numbering over 3.2 million, elder abuse is on the rise. Admittedly, many of these elderly Americans are well cared for, but an unfortunate 10% or 150,000 individuals become the victim of elder abuse on a yearly basis while living in these facilities. Of course, elder abuse is not limited to nursing facilities alone, more on that later.
What is Elder Abuse?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines elder abuse as “any intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates risk or harm to an older adult.” This is another way of simply saying that elder abuse is any neglect or action by an abuser –be they family members or medical personnel–who harms an elderly individual. Although elder abuse is often thought of as only pertaining to physical abuse, there are several types of elder abuse, including the following:
- Physical Abuse:As mentioned, physical abuse is what is often thought of in elder abuse cases. This can be the use of physical force by the abuser, resulting in physical pain, distress, functional impairment, bodily injury, chronic illness or death of an elderly individual. Physical abuse often involves an abuser striking, biting, kicking, choking, scratching, suffocating, pushing, shaking, shoving, slapping, stomping, burning, shaking or pinching an elderly individual.
- Psychological or Emotional Abuse: This type of abuse doesn’t show on the outside in the form of bruises or injuries but is just as damaging to an older person. When an abuser uses emotions or psychology to abuse, they can cause distress, fear, mental pain or anguish. Some specific examples of this type of abuse could include name calling or insults, humiliation in front of peers, threats of harm or undesired action, isolation (keeping patient secluded from family and friends) or control (limiting transportation or participation in desired activities).
- Sexual Contact or Sexual Abuse:Any unwanted or forced sexual interaction of any type with an elderly adult falls under the sexual contact or sexual elder abuse category. This can include forced intimate contact or groping through the clothing. This type of abuse can also be present if an elderly individual is unable to competently give approval for sexual interaction.
- Neglect:Often, this type of abuse is the result of an overcrowded nursing home population, which are usually understaffed. It occurs when medical professionals (in an assisted living or nursing home setting, or family members if senior lives at home or with family) neglect an elder’s basic needs. This can include not giving them the clothing they need, basic activities they desire, shelter, nutrition, medical care, neglecting hygiene, lack of hydration or exposing an elder to unsafe living conditions. To prove neglect, the absence of competent action must result in the compromised health or safety of the elder.
- Exploitation or Financial Abuse: The improper, unauthorized or illegal use of an elder’s resources by either a caregiver or someone else in a trusting relationship is consider exploitation or financial abuse. Examples of this include the misuse or theft of money or possessions, forgery, deception or coercion.
Why Elder Abuse is so Detrimental?
The negative impact of elder abuse is quite substantial. In fact, research has revealed elders who are abused in some way are 300% more likely to experience death than those who have not experienced elder abuse. Even if death is not the end result, elders who are abused still face an abundance of problems, such as additional health issues, joint problems, depression and anxiety, chronic pain, heart issues, high blood pressure and an increase in joint or bone problems.
Who Are the Most Common Abusers? Does Elder Abuse Only Occur In Assisted Living or Nursing Facilities?
Although one might assume elder abuse occurs only in a nursing home setting, as stated earlier, that is simply not true. In fact, the most likely perpetrators of abuse are the spouses or adult children of the elder. Most abusers are male and either have a history of or are currently dealing with a substance abuse issue, have physical or mental health issues themselves, are unemployed, are financially unstable, socially isolated or have a history of run ins with the police.
Stats Showing Common Perpetrators:
A study following 4,156 older individuals revealed family members to be the most common perpetrators of elder abuse, making up 90% of all cases. The most common type of elder abuse is financial exploitation, making up 57.9% of the cases evaluated. The next most common perpetrators are neighbors or friends, making up 16.9% of cases then home care aides at 14.9%.
How to Recognize Elder Abuse:
Whether your loved one is living alone at home or in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you need to pay close attention to any warning signs of elder abuse. Bruises, cuts, unexplained injuries along with sudden changes in behavior are all signs that your elderly loved one might be the victim of elder abuse. Contact us today to see what compensation might be available for your loved one if they become the victim of this deplorable crime.
Elder Abuse Content
Below are several other sections of content regarding elder abuse.
- Nursing Home Reform Care Act
- Nursing Home FAQ
- Nursing Home Regulations
- Required Services for Nursing Home Residents
- Nursing Home Neglect
- Where to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Georgia
- Understaffed Nursing Homes
Contact The Parian Law Firm, LLC
If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, you need the assistance of an experienced firm on your side. Contact The Parian Law Firm by filling out the form to the right or calling us at (770) 727-5550.