Unfortunately, elder abuse has become a common occurrence in many long-term care facilities throughout the U.S. Elder abuse and neglect can take many forms, from emotional distress to financial mismanagement. Here are some tips to help you decide if your loved one may be at risk…
Current Statistics Regarding Elder Abuse
As of 2014, 7.6%-10% of elderly Americans experienced some type of physical abuse last year. According to the APS (Adult Protective Services, only 1 out of 14 cases of adult abuse are reported to the proper authorities, most of which are related to financial abuse. This means that even though an overwhelming number of elderly Americans are physically and emotionally abused each year, many never come forward.
In a study conducted from 2001-2005 by the California Department of Health and Human Services, over 2/3 of nursing home residents reported deficiencies in care or facility maintenance that could cause serious physical harm. More than 1/2 of residents reported overall poor care and 18% reported some type of physical or mental abuse.
In some cases, physical signs of abuse may be difficult to see; however, vigilance and careful deduction can help you root out the possibility of underlying abuse.
Top signs of physical abuse:
- Bruises, especially in areas that may be hidden by clothing
- Inexplicable accidents that cause broken bones or lacerations
- Hand prints, finger prints, or pressure marks on arms, legs, and neck
- Burns on hands, feet, arms, and legs
Cluster patterns of bruising or pressure marks around the thighs, chest, or genital area could point to sexual abuse. This type of physical signs could be coupled with emotional distress, a withdrawn demeanor, and confusion.
Emotional elder abuse goes largely unreported; therefore, it is extremely important to watch for changes in your loved one’s behavior and/or demeanor.
Top signs of emotional abuse:
- Loss of interest or withdraw from normal activities
- Depression, or excessive sadness
- Extreme fear of being left alone
- Changes in levels of alertness or responsiveness
Financial abuse is one of the most common types of elder exploitation and is also one of the most commonly reported.
Top signs of financial abuse:
- Unauthorized use of property, cash, or pension fund
- Sudden changes in financial situation
- Unusual check or debit card transactions
How to Combat Elder Abuse
Garcia Law reports that “nearly 1 in 10 nursing homes violate requirements potentially causing residents harm, serious injury, or possibly death.” If you believe your loved one may be a victim of elder abuse, you must contact the police and the department of Health and Human Services as soon as possible. In addition, you must contact an attorney to seek restitution, medical care reimbursement and bring the abusive facility to the attention of the public.
Being observant to tell-tale signs of abuse could help you decide if your loved one is suffering at the hands of a caregiver. In order to protect your loved one, it is extremely important that you research the facility or caregiver thoroughly before making a final decision about long-term care.