Elder abuse is one of the most under-reported forms of negligence. According to one study, victims only report one out of every fourteen cases. The percentage could be even lower in home-based abuse cases. Many victims do not want anyone to “get in trouble.” Furthermore, many victims, in their advanced age, have mental impairments, so they may not even realize they have been abused. Many elder victims fear retaliation from abusive caregivers.
It’s vital to pursue claims in these cases. At-home caregivers who abuse one patient will most likely have further victims if given the opportunity. A nursing home attorney sheds light on the situation and saves further people from becoming victims.
Physical abuse happens far more often than is reported. Caregivers shoving their patients into the bathroom, improperly moving patients to and from seated positions, or forcibly pulling the patient out of bed are common instances of the kind of abuse elders can suffer at nursing home
For a normal, healthy adult, such moments may not seem much. But it’s not the same for someone who is physically frail. Such small instances can leave bruises and scratches that won’t heal as well as they would if the victim were 30-50 years younger and could compound into even greater health risks. Everyone should be on the lookout for physical abuse. Look for bruises, scratches, unusual weakness, and any other sign of physical injury.
This category includes verbal and sexual misconduct.
For someone who has little contact with the outside world, including their own family, verbal abuse is particularly harmful. Some caregivers say things like “no one loves you” or “your family has abandoned you.” Statements like those can severely depress someone who can’t disprove them in their mind. That could lead to depression and other worse mental issues. Sexual abuse also happens, and a single instance is far too many to allow happen. Such activities range from some physically inappropriate touching to forcing patients to watch pornography or listen to upsetting sexual stories.
Be on the lookout for signs of these abuses. Some physical evidence of sexual abuse includes things like torn undergarments or behavioral black-outs. Other evidence includes unusual behavioral changes or unexpected outbursts.
Financial abuse is particularly seedy and can be direct and extremely subtle.
Many unscrupulous caregivers blatantly steal money or valuables from their patients. Other caregivers, including some blood relatives, force or trick victims into signing financial documents, craft stories to get money (e.g. your nephew is in jail and I need cash to bail him out), or illegally cash government assistance checks in the elder’s name.
To prevent this abuse, treat stories of missing money seriously and instruct the elder to confirm all financial transactions with a trusted friend, or loved one.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Butler Tobin for their insight into elder abuse cases.