What You Need to Know About Elderly Abuse
A great deal of emphasis has been placed on the neglect, abuse, and exploitation of those who cannot defend themselves, and rightly so. While we tend to focus on children as the most vulnerable to abuse, elder abuse is not uncommon and can lead to devastating consequences.
There are several different ways in which elderly abuse may be manifested:
- Physical or sexual abuse.
- Neglect or the lack of food, shelter, care, or protection.
- Exploitation or taking the funds or assets of a vulnerable person by illegal means.
- Emotional abuse or the intentional infliction of mental distress through intimidation, threats, or humiliation.
- The complete abandonment of a person by any person given responsibility of the care of the elder.
- The responsible person’s failure to assist or perform self-care tasks that could jeopardize the elderly person’s health.
While the above list may seem deplorable, a study made by the National Center on Elder Abuse recorded yearly incidents in the hundreds of thousands. Keep in mind that these are only the ones reported.
This can be compounded by the fact that some elderly victims of abuse lack the ability to speak due to infirmities and so cannot testify or report their abuser.
Elders are also often exploited or abused financially, especially by caregivers and relatives. This may come in the form of stolen property, forged checks, stolen identity, or coercion to alter wills or contracts. Strangers may also commit fraud by targeting seniors with fake charity scams or investment opportunities.
If you think you or someone you know has become the victim of some form of elder abuse, it’s important that you seek qualified legal counsel. If you see any of the following telltale signs that may be attributed to elderly abuse, it’s important that you report it immediately:
- Physical injuries that can appear as cuts, bruises, broken bones, or burns.
- Uncharacteristic changes in mood or level of alertness.
- Cessation of regular activities.
- Sudden alterations in finances or assets.
- Irritability that can be manifested through arguments, tense relationships, threats, or derision.
- Neglected basic needs shown through weight loss or lack of proper hygiene.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of the above physical signs or behavior, first contact the Adult Protective Services agency that corresponds with the victim’s state of residence. Then, if you think you have a case, contact a qualified elder abuse lawyer for a consultation. Law surrounding physical and financial abuse of the elderly can be complicated, and it’s important to get a professional opinion before pursuing your due compensation.