Allowing a loved one to be supervised and cared for by staff workers, caregivers, or other individuals require an unfathomable level of trust. It is expected of those who are responsible for the elderly to delicately and affectionately tend to the needs of those they owe their duty to. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Legal action, by an experience elder abuse lawyer, is an important part of protecting the self-respect, dignity, and quality of life for our most vulnerable and also ensure that proper safeguards are heeded in the assisted living care industry.
Types of Elder Abuse
Abuse of the elderly comes in many forms. Whether a senior is in a nursing home or in the care of a caregiver or relative, indicators pointing to potential signs of mistreatment are usually always there. Some of the most common reported categorizations of abuse are: physical, emotional, financial and abandonment or neglect.
Physical abuse of the elderly consists of the infliction of pain, bodily injury or impairment from a perpetrator. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA), individuals who are likely to abuse seniors usually live with their victims and are unmarried and unemployed. Reports of perpetrators with alcohol or substance abuse problems are also likely. Although it’s difficult to assign physical injuries directly to physical abuse without concrete evidence, the NCPEA encourages observers to look for patterns and clusters of indicators that suggest there’s an issue.
Some potential identifiers of physical abuse are:
- Burns (from cigarettes, hot water or appliances)
- Abrasions on arms, legs, or torso that emulate strap marks
- Pain from internal injuries
- Difficulty functioning normally
- Bleeding from body orifices
- Traumatic hair and tooth loss
There are several bruises that have been found to be rarely coincidental. These include bilateral bruising to the inner thighs, multicolored bruises that indicate they were sustained over time, bilateral bruising to the arms or “wrap around” bruises that encompass a senior’s arms and legs.
Emotional abuse, also considered psychological abuse, can adversely affect a senior’s mental and physical state. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse isn’t as easy to detect, but it can be just as harmful to the victim if endured long enough. In situations where emotional mistreatment is suspected, a psychological evaluation along with an account of events from the victim would be sought by an official.
A caregiver who may be verbally or nonverbally abusing a senior may:
- Humiliate or ridicule the victim
- Intimidate the victim by screaming or threatening them
- Completely ignoring the victim
- Keeping the victim from friends and family by isolating them
- Habitual blaming, scapegoating or displaying demeaning behavior towards the victim
- Terrorizing the victim
Behaviors that are considered indicative of elder abuse could be:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Low self esteem
- A desire to self-harm
- Mood swings
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- A fear or speaking out
- Refusal to join social interactions
This type of abuse pertains to the unauthorized use of a senior’s property or finances by someone who owes a duty to them or a third party, like a con artist. There is a vast existence of illegitimate charities, investment companies and fraudulent announcements assuring money that specifically target the elderly.
A caregiver with intentions of financially exploiting an elderly victim could:
- Forge the victim’s signature
- Steal the victim’s identity
- Engage in the use of the victim’s accounts, credit cards or personal checks
- Steal cash, items or income checks
Neglect and Abandonment
When the individual responsible for an older person fails to provide the basic necessities and care to maintain good health, this is labeled as “elder neglect.” Just a few years ago, the National Center on Elder Abuse released a state revealing that elder neglect is the most common type of abuse, being mentioned in nearly half of all reported cases of abuse involving seniors. The abandonment of an elderly person who requires aid is grounds for a claim against the neglected. Some signs of neglect are but not limited to:
Bed sores, also known as pressure sores, form on the body when a person experiences prolonged pressure on the skin. They commonly develop on areas of the skin that is in close vicinity of bones. Therefore, the skin covering areas such as the elbow, ankles, hips, back and heels are more likely to form the sores. Elderly people who require aid are significantly more at risk of this condition due to the fact that their movement may be limited or impaired by medical conditions, causing them to be confined to a wheelchair or a bed for lengthy periods of time. Emerging as quickly as two hours, immediate treatment is suggested in cases of suspected pressure sores on victims. A lack of attention and adequate care by those responsible for victims essentially contribute to the emergence of bed sores, and to their exacerbation. Failure to properly treat sores in a timely manner could result in a compilation of unwarranted medical complications.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most reported cases of these sores transpire in a nursing home setting. As many as 10% of residents in these facilities suffer from pressure sores.
Other signs of neglect and abandonment are:
- Poor hygiene
- Weight loss due to malnutrition
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Always alone
- Foul smelling, unchanged diapers or bed sheets
- Untreated medical conditions
The Important of an Experienced Elder Abuse Lawyer
It’s completely justified for the loved ones or acquaintances of abused seniors to feel upset about their mistreatment by a caregiver, or any individual who chose to partake in the abuse. Claims pertaining to the abuse of an elder contains numerous complexities that require the assistance of an experienced elder abuse lawyer. Dysart Law Firm is accustomed to taking on these types of cases.
If you believe an elderly loved one has been the victim of neglect or abuse at a nursing home, please contact us now to discuss your options. It’s important that you have an experienced elder abuse lawyer on your side and serving as your advocate.