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Elder Abuse

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Elder Abuse

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Elder Abuse

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Elder abuse is a rarely discussed but pervasive problem. With many elderly people unable to defend themselves and/or unwilling to speak up or report the abuse, a great deal of pain often goes unnoticed and uncorrected. Elder abuse can include any kind of physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse. Elder neglect is similarly common and can be just as harmful, including withholding basic necessities such as food, adequate housing, medicine, and hygienic support. While elder abuse within nursing homes is more commonly discussed, it’s important to note that the majority of elder abuse is actually perpetrated by family members

If you suspect someone is suffering from elder abuse and is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, contact your state’s elder abuse and neglect hotline or adult protective services office to make a report. Additional aid can be sought with the help of an elder abuse attorney, including potential compensation for a loved one’s pain and suffering in addition to potential monetary damages or medical bills which occurred as a result of the abuse.

What are the Statistics on Elder Abuse?

To understand the pervasiveness and reality of elder abuse, it’s essential to look at recent data which has been collected regarding reported instances of elder abuse, as well as well-researched estimates based on elder abuse studies in which some researchers surmise that instances of elder abuse are more likely higher due to a general lack of reporting.

Let’s go over some important elder abuse related statistics:

  • According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), approximately 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse.
  • Nearly 60% of elder abuse and neglect perpetrators are family members of the victim. Two-thirds of these perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
  • According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), respondents most frequently reported verbal mistreatment, financial mistreatment, and physical mistreatment in that order from family members.
  • Some estimate that only 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse are formally reported, but the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study actually suggests this number could be much lower, with possibly only 1 in 25 cases of elder abuse reported. One theory for why so many cases of elder abuse go unreported is that victims—if willing—may not be able to report their abuse.
  • Data gathered from Adult Protective Services (APS) indicates a rising number of reported elder abuses.

Who is Responsible for Elder Abuse?

Unfortunately, due to elements such as social isolation and mental impairments that can accompany an aging body, it can be extremely difficult for elderly people to communicate what they are experiencing to the right people. Especially when the perpetrator is someone close to the elderly person or responsible for their care in some way, it can be nearly impossible even for an elderly person who has retained their communicative abilities to access the proper channel of reporting. Parties that could be responsible for elder abuse include:

  • Adult children. Unfortunately, adult children are often responsible for the abuse and/or neglect an elderly parent experiences. This can make it difficult to identify and take action from the outside, since adult children are often responsible for the general care of elderly parents.
  • Spouse. It is not uncommon for the spouse of an elderly person to be responsible for abuse or neglect. This abuse/neglect could have been occurring for years or could have begun more recently as their spouse lost some of the protections provided by youth.
  • Nursing home staff. In a poll taken of nursing home staff, over 50% confidentially admitted to having participated in one or more types of elder abuse or neglect at work. Understaffing and burnout can cause nursing home staff to lose their patience and behave in abhorrent ways, making them liable for damages incurred to the victim as a result of nursing home abuse.
  • Other residents. Other residents within the nursing home are the next most common perpetrators of nursing home abuse. There is some shared responsibility for the nursing home itself to remain aware of threatening individuals, but assuming the nursing home is unaware or unable to stop the abuse, when a resident abuses another resident, the perpetrating resident is responsible for all damages incurred as a result.
  • Nursing home management. When matters of nursing home abuse occur as a result of oversight or even intentional negligence on the part of the nursing home itself, the nursing home can be held liable. Nursing home management is responsible for creating a community in which aggressive behavior is not tolerated, and encouraging individuals to suffer in silence is not tolerated. When nursing homes don’t take steps to prevent a negative/disrespectful attitude toward the elderly, they can be held responsible for any abuse or neglect that occurs as a result. Poor treatment of employees and understaffing can also lead to their employees behaving in an abusive and neglectful manner, another way in which the nursing home itself could be liable.

Do You Have a Claim for Elder Abuse?

Depending on the nature of your or your family member’s damages due to elder abuse,your lawyer may identify possible claims for:

  • Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from abuse or negligence may bring about additional medical treatments and expenses.
  • Financial Loss. Financial loss of up to $2.9 billion per year have been linked to financial elder abuse.
  • Lifecare expenses. Such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
  • Pain and suffering. For both emotional and physical distress.
  • Loss of care and companionship.
  • Wrongful death.
  • Funeral expenses.

If you suspect a loved one might be the victim of elder abuse, or if a loved one died as a result of elder abuse or neglect, you need an elder abuse attorney that understands the emotional and physical toll these abuses take on a victim. An experienced attorney will be aggressive in seeking the compensation that your loved one and your family deserve. Seek legal counsel to learn more about elder abuse and discuss if you are eligible to file a claim.

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