About one out of every 10 elderly people in the U.S. are abused, neglected, or financially exploited, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Many instances of elder abuse go unreported, so it’s likely that abuse is far more widespread than statistics suggest. One of the best ways to combat the occurrence of elder abuse is through increased awareness of the problem. By knowing the warning signs of abuse, we might be better equipped to notice it when it happens to our loved ones. Let’s get started by exploring the most common types of elder abuse.
Physical Elderly Abuse
Physical abuse involves striking, shoving, or sexually assaulting an elderly person. Though less common than financial or emotional abuse, the damage caused by the physical assault of an elderly person is profound. Signs of physical abuse include bruises, cuts, broken bones, depression, anxiety, and personality changes.
Emotional Elderly Abuse
Emotional abuse involves yelling at, bullying, ignoring, or otherwise mistreating an elderly person. It’s the most common form of elderly abuse. Signs of emotional or mental abuse include depression, anxiety, mood swings, personality changes, and a reluctance to discuss the abuse.
Financial Elderly Abuse
The financial exploitation of elderly people is the second most common form of elderly abuse. It’s often difficult to detect, partly because the person being exploited might not be aware of how badly they’re being taken advantage of. Financial abuse or exploitation can be perpetrated by family members, friends, or scammers.
Risk Factors for Abuse
Several factors make elder abuse more likely. Research shows that the following traits make an elderly person more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Dementia – As many as 50% of elderly people with dementia experience some form of abuse
Dependence on others to perform basic tasks
Poor overall health
Scarce economic resources
Prior traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence
The fewer people an elderly person has in their life, the more vulnerable they are to being abused. If you have a loved one who you suspect is being abused, you might be their best hope for stopping it.
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
At Sawyer Law Firm, we focus on helping people subjected to abuse and neglect in nursing homes. This type of abuse has similarities and differences with abuse perpetrated outside of assisted living facilities.
Physical and emotional abuse in nursing homes has the same warning signs listed above. This type of abuse can be committed by staff members or other residents.
Abused nursing home residents might be even more reluctant to speak about the abuse they’ve experienced, simply because they’re more dependent on their facilities for basic necessities and care.
Neglect is another form of abuse that is commonly seen in nursing homes. Signs of neglect include poor hygiene, unsanitary living conditions, malnutrition, dehydration, depression, personality changes, and withdrawal from people or activities one used to enjoy.
What to Do If You Suspect a Loved One Is Being Abused
First, try to communicate with your loved one about the abuse. Talk to them in private, away from those you suspect are abusing them. Let your loved ones know that help is available if they need it.
If you suspect your loved one is being physically or sexually assaulted, emotionally abused, or financially exploited outside of a nursing home or assisted living facility, consider notifying the authorities or, in Alabama, Adult Protective Services.
If you believe your loved one is being physically or emotionally abused in a nursing home, you should speak to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.
Though reporting and addressing the abuse in a nursing home can be a complicated process, an attorney with direct experience handling these cases will know the best steps for you and your loved one to take.
We Help Mistreated Residents in Alabama Nursing Homes
At Sawyer Law Firm, we’re known as one of the go-to law firms in Alabama for nursing home abuse, neglect, and injury cases. Sadly, the mistreatment of elderly nursing home residents is a far-too-common problem in our state, and time is of the essence when your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home. We encourage you to call our team as soon as possible to begin the process of removing your loved one from the facility they’re living in and to hold the negligent nursing home accountable for the harm they’ve caused.
We’re one of the few firms in Alabama that accept cases involving arbitration. If you signed a contract when moving your loved one into a nursing home, you might have signed an arbitration agreement, which can make it more difficult to find assistance. However, even with a signed arbitration agreement in effect, there are steps you can take to ensure the health and safety of your loved one.