Elder abuse is a terrible crime that impacts thousands of senior citizens throughout the US. The most common perpetrators of elder abuse are nursing home employees and caregivers. Many victims do not – or physically cannot – come forward to report elder abuse. If you have an elderly loved one in someone else’s care, look for the possible signs of different types of elder abuse. It may be up to you to say something.
Types of Abuse
Elder abuse is the knowing, wanton or intentional harming of a senior citizen. It is a rampant problem in the US, especially at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Elder abuse in any shape or form can cause serious injuries or illnesses, from broken bones to wrongful death. There are seven main types of elder abuse:
- Physical abuse occurs when someone intentionally causes physical harm to a senior. Examples include slapping, punching, hitting, kicking, biting, burning, shoving, beating or pinching a victim. Potential signs of physical elder abuse include unexplained injuries, black eyes, burn marks, broken bones and dislocations.
- Emotional abuse describes the mistreatment of an individual to the point where the victim suffers emotional, psychological or mental harm. Emotional abuse can include a perpetrator yelling at, harassing, insulting, threatening or intimidating a victim. It can also involve isolation, the silent treatment or improper use of restraints. Signs of emotional abuse are depression, anxiety, unusual behaviors and withdrawal.
- Sexual abuse refers to sex crimes against elders, such as sexual assault, rape and sexually explicit photography. The most common victims are seniors with physical or mental impairments who cannot defend themselves. Signs of sexual abuse include genital injuries, emotional changes and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Financial elder abuse is the exploitation of a senior citizen for financial gain. It refers to crimes such as fraud, deceit, forgery and scams. Signs of financial abuse include sudden drops in bank accounts, checks made out to cash, last-minute changes to wills and lavish gifts to caregivers.
- Abandonment describes the desertion of an elderly person by a caregiver. If the person in charge of a senior citizen’s physical custody and care abandoned the elder at a nursing home, hospital, grocery store or home, that person has committed abandonment. Abandonment can cause physical harm and emotional distress.
- Neglect is the lack of proper care of an elderly individual. A caregiver may be guilty of neglect if he or she fails to fulfill a legal obligation to the elder. Signs of neglect include malnourishment, dehydration, unkempt appearance, lack of personal hygiene, untreated wounds, infections and bedsores.
- Self-neglect. Allowing an elderly person to self-neglect is also a form of elder abuse. It is a caregiver’s responsibility to prevent self-neglect through proper supervision and treatment. Signs of self-neglect can range from lack of sanitation to a hazardous living situation for the senior.
Any type of elder abuse poses serious risks to victims physically, emotionally and psychologically. A vulnerable senior citizen may never fully recover from abuse, neglect or exploitation. An elder abuse survivor may suffer overall declines in mental and physical health, as well as serious financial losses. If you suspect someone of abusing your elderly loved one, do not hesitate to take legal action.
When to Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you notice any signs of one of the seven types of elder abuse, get your loved one to a safe location and report your suspicions to the authorities. File an accident report with the nursing home or care facility. Then, consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer near you for advice about filing a lawsuit against the at-fault individual or facility. A lawyer can help a victim pursue justice and financial compensation.