The elderly are unfortunately subjected to abusive situations in some cases as they age and become less able to stand up for themselves. This may be very disturbing to imagine, but it happens more than you may think. In information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 500,000 older adults over age 60 are abused and neglected every year. However, even more cases are known to go unreported.
So, What is Elderly Abuse?
The Department of Health and Human Services Administration of Aging says that elder abuse is “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish or deprivation by a person, including a caregiver, of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.” Physical abuse in a nursing home setting could apply to the use of restraints unnecessarily or slapping and hitting. Sexual abuse can apply to cases of rape or requiring a resident to disrobe when they otherwise wouldn’t have to.
Understanding the Various Types of Elder Abuse
- Physical Abuse: As it applies to elderly, physical abuse is the use of force against somebody that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment. This can include hitting and shoving or the use of physical restraints.
- Emotional Abuse: Emotional and psychological abuse can apply to people speaking to or treating elderly people badly and making them feel emotional pain and distress. This can include intimidation through yelling or threatening, humiliation, blaming, ignoring, isolating them from friends and family, or terrorizing them.
- Sexual Abuse: This applies to any type of contact with an elderly person without their consent. This can involve physical acts of sex, showing them pornographic material, forcing them to watch sex acts, or forcing them to undress.
- Neglect/Abandonment: This applies to neglect and failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation. It can either be intentional or unintentional, and be based on factors like ignorance or denial.
- Financial Exploitation: This involves unauthorized use of an elderly person’s funds or property, either by a caretaker or scam artist. It can mean that somebody misused personal checks or accounts, stole cash, or engaged in identity theft. Phone charities and investment fraud may sometimes come into play in these cases.
- Healthcare Fraud and Abuse: Examples include not providing healthcare but instead charging for it, overcharging for medical services, overmedication or under medicating, or Medicaid fraud.
What Should You Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse?
If somebody you love may have been a victim of abuse, you should immediately call the police or Adult Protective Services. Abuse doesn’t even need proven to make the report. There are specific people who are most often legally liable for abuse and neglect. Sometimes, many factors can be the cause including negligent hiring, understaffing, inadequate training, and even medication errors.
In the case of nursing home abuse and neglect, you will probably want an attorney on your side that has experience in nursing home abuse. They will be able to review and discuss your situation with you and help you explore all legal options. You can find out if you have a case by working with the attorneys at WTW.