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Jan 19, 2020 1:39 AM ET

How to Identify and Report Elderly Abuse

Legal Newswire

iCrowd Newswire - Jan 19, 2020

Many elderly people don’t report abuse because of fear of retaliation or the lack of ability to do so. Learn how to identify and report elderly abuse here.

Do you ever wonder what’s really happening to your senior relative behind closed doors? Is your loved one agitated or unusually quiet around their caretakers?

It’s impossible to get accurate statistics on elder abuse because only 4 percent of these cases are reported to authorities. Some seniors can’t speak up for themselves or they may not want to get family caretakers in trouble.

If you’ve ever suspected that your loved one is being abused, this article’s for you.

We’ll give you an insider’s glimpse at the types of senior citizen abuse and help you report elderly abuse.

Types of Elder Abuse

When you start to talk about elderly abuse, it’s important to realize that there are several types. Here are a few of the most common:

Financial Abuse

Does your loved one suddenly have trouble paying their bills? Is their caretaker controlling their money and bankrupting them? This type of abuse could include failure to pay for medications, theft from the home, and even changing ownership on vehicles or property.

Physical Abuse

Slapping, pushing, choking, and punching are all signs of physical abuse. If you see broken bones, that’s a clear sign that there’s a problem.

Bruising around the wrists and throat are also signs of bullying and physical abuse, along with black eyes and fearful responses to staff.

Sexual Abuse

Signs of sexual abuse include symmetrical bruising, blood on the clothing, and severe psychological trauma.

If your relative says that they’ve been sexually assaulted in a nursing home, it’s vital that you believe them and talk to the nursing staff immediately.

Healthcare Abuse

Does your relative’s nursing home double bill you and then claim that it was accidental? Is the nursing staff prescribing medications that make your relative sluggish and depressed? Is the nursing home overcrowded or dirty?

Healthcare abuse is a fundamental violation of the trust you put in a hospital to keep your relative safe.

Psychological Abuse

Nobody wants to be yelled at and degraded, but seniors often have to put up with angry, demanding caretakers. Maybe they’re moving slowly or they dropped something by accident: that’s no reason for the caretaker to yell at them or make them feel like they’re worthless.

Having medical issues is difficult enough without the added burden of nursing home abuse.

Signs of Abuse and Neglect

If you’re looking for signs of elder neglect and abuse, you should start with personality changes. Your loved one may fall into a deep depression and not want to discuss it with anyone.

They may also stop taking care of their hygiene, refusing to bathe or allow themselves to be bathed. They might wear the same clothes for weeks at a time or discontinue routines like hair brushing, shopping for groceries, or driving.

Another common sign of abuse and neglect is fear. Does your family member seem like they’re scared of the nursing home staff? Is there a particular aide who makes your loved one particularly nervous?

If your loved one is in a nursing home and you’re able to visit them, make a point of showing up at different times of the day. You want to get a good idea of the staff on every shift including weekend, early morning, and evening.

Of course, bruises are a telltale sign of abuse. Too often, seniors are so frightened by the abuse that they hesitate to report it. If their caretaker is a family member, they may feel that reporting the abuse would be disloyal.

Overall, your loved one should have a clean living environment that’s free from chemicals, feces, and debris. They should be taking their medication regularly and be able to see their doctors when needed.

They should also be bathed and fed regularly, and live in a situation where they feel happy and respected.

Common Scams Against the Elderly

We live in a digital world, but seniors aren’t always internet-savvy. They might receive a prize announcement, for example, that asks them to pay out of pocket.

This doesn’t make any sense to the rest of us but to them, it’s a small price to pay for a large cash prize. By the time they realize there isn’t any prize, they may have exhausted their savings.

The same danger exists in phone scams, often called “phishing.” The senior is excited to win a vacation or prize, not realizing that they shouldn’t share their bank account information by phone.

The next scam is closer to home: a family member signs up as a caregiver but doesn’t do the work. They collect a salary for care that they never deliver, leaving the senior to cook for themselves or clean their own homes.

The problem with these scams is that seniors are often too embarrassed to report them. They may not know who to trust or they may have a memory issue that’s ongoing.

Elderly people need caretakers who are going to champion their well-being. They need staff and family members who are committed to getting them the right care and supervision.

If you suspect that your family member has been the victim of a scam, it might be time to talk to a lawyer.

How to Report Elderly Abuse

To report elderly abuse, call 911 immediately. Then set up a time to meet with a lawyer to discuss the abuse. If you have x-rays or medical files, bring them with you. Also, bring any pictures that you’ve taken of your loved one’s injuries.

Your lawyer can help you prosecute a nursing home or individual caretaker. You may be able to get a cash settlement that pays you back for medical bills and living expenses.

Your legal team can help you get your case rolling and they may not require payment until you win your lawsuit.

Now that you know about elder abuse, we invite you to read our other blogs. We have up-to-date information about cybersecurity, intellectual property, and going to law school.

We even have webcasts and podcasts for you to enjoy. Thank you for stopping by!


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