Many types of elder abuse need to be addressed. Below are some examples of what occurs during the abuse and how it occurs:
- Emotional Abuse: This is more about the mental state of the older adult and whether or not it is in a good state. Emotional abuse can be saying hurtful words, yelling, and threatening them. It also includes preventing them from seeing their close friends and relatives;
- Neglect: This occurs when the abuser fails to meet the elder’s basic needs. Such as providing them with necessary medication, food, water, and social support;
- Financial Abuse: financial resources are withheld. This includes forging checks, stealing someone else’s retirement money, changing the name on the tile without their permission;
- Physical Abuse: This occurs when someone causes bodily harm by hitting, pushing, or slapping. It may also involve restraining older adults against their will, such as locking them in a room or tying them to furniture;
- Abandonment: This is deserting an elder who is entirely dependent on you for basic needs and care and;
- Sexual Abuse: This is when a caregiver or other individual forces an older adult to watch or be part of sexual acts.
Who is Being Abused?
A victim can be anyone in a vulnerable position, either a female or a male. The group of especially vulnerable elders is those who do not have family or friends nearby, who have medical issues, memory problems, etc. Older adults are weak; therefore, it is important to have them seek help immediately.
Furthermore, financial abuse is becoming more prevalent and harder to notice. To prevent financial theft, do some basic practices when dealing with financial transactions. Be sure not to share any financial information over the phone or online, and hackers may be able to access and steal your information.
In addition to the theft of an older person’s money or belongings, financial abuse consists of the following:
- Financial Neglect: This happens when the elders are failing and ignoring to pay the necessary bills for a mortgage, medical expenses, property taxes, and insurance;
- Financial Exploitation: This occurs when property and other assets are being misused, mismanaged, and used without consent and;
- Healthcare Fraud: This is committed by doctors, hospital staff, or other healthcare workers. It consists of overcharging, billing twice for the same service, falsifying Medicaid or Medicare claims, or charging for care that wasn’t provided.
What are Some Signs of Abuse?
With Elder Abuse, detecting signs of abuse early on is vital. If not, it can lead to more medical and psychological problems for them. Below are some warning signs that can be visible:
- Does not want to participate in any social activities;
- Does not want to make an effort to maintain basic hygiene;
- Has insomnia and cannot sleep at night;
- Becomes more aggressive and violent;
- There are unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, and scars;
- Lives in an unsafe environment and unclean environment;
- There are no adequate financial resources or no paid bills;
- Has bed sores and other preventable conditions and;
- Lacks basic medical aids (such as glasses, walker, dentures, hearing aid, and medications).
If you see any warning signs mentioned, you need to approach the elder and collect more information about their situation. Seek help from the local adult protection services. Remember that you do not need to provide proof of the abuse; that is the professional’s responsibility. If you notice something suspicious, please contact someone who can help.
What is the Long-Term Effect of Abuse?
There are many long-term impacts of elder abuse. Most cases can lead to early death, harm physical and psychological health, destroy social and family ties, and experience a financial loss. Furthermore, the abuse can lead to trauma which can cause the older adult to lead a fearful life. Keep in mind that there are some risk factors present in every situation. There needs to be an understanding of how to address the factors that put people at risk or protect them from violence to prevent elder abuse.
According to the CDC, paying attention to the elder’s behavior can help you understand what they are going through. Providing the support they need to feel comfortable coming forward is important. Reporting suspected abuse to local adult protective services is recommended whenever you detect warning signs. Use the National Center on Elder Abuse Listing of State Elder Abuse. Learning about how your local state reports these issues and how to recognize elder abuse is pivotal.
Remember that regular check-ins with the older adult can help prevent further elder abuse. The burdened caregivers should receive a break from time to time to provide the best care for the elders. They can take support from local relief care, counseling, adult day care programs, and other local state agencies that can assist with elderly care. Our states have a growing elderly population, and there needs to be more research conducted to understand how we can improve their care. They are in vulnerable situations requiring assistance from their caregivers and others responsible for their care.
What Can Government Agencies Do For You?
The Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) are viral federal agencies protecting people from abuse. But, there is room for improvement in any organization. For instance, the DOJ handles the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases. Although they carry out training to combat it, some missing links about their goals remain. Enhancing these goals to prepare better and prevent elder abuse can create more success for them in the future in terms of elderly law.
One of the biggest challenges HHS runs into is gathering data on the financial exploitation of older adults. Sometimes, government agencies fail to communicate, and then critical information is lost. Furthermore, failure to report incidents can result in not enough data on how elder abuse occurs. HHS can collaborate with other state agencies to improve the data on financial exploitation and share best practices in collecting such data among the states.
Lastly, elders with disabilities are in more vulnerable positions. For example, there have been unexplained deaths in assisted living facilities. States do not always monitor the practices and guidelines followed by assisted living facilities. If states fail to report these incidents and do not follow best practices when dealing with the elderly, it can create more opportunities for elder abuse in the future. This is preventable if states coordinate their efforts to prevent elder abuse from occurring in the first place.
When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?
If you are experiencing elder abuse or know someone who is, please communicate with the elder to seek immediate help regarding their situation. As mentioned earlier, there are warning signs, and detecting them earlier on can be helpful for the older person.
If you have any concerns or questions, do not hesitate to contact a local elder law attorney to receive guidance. The impact caused by elder abuse is severe and life-changing. A qualified and experienced lawyer can help ensure that your rights or the rights of your loved one are properly protected. They can see to it that you receive the property remedy you are entitled to under the family laws in your area.