More About Elder Abuse
Abuse of an elder or dependent adult means either (A) physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment resulting in physical harm or pain or mental suffering or (B) deprivation by a care custodian of goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.
The statute further defines different kinds of abuse. For example, physical abuse includes assault, battery, sexual assault, and improper use of physical or chemical restraints (i.e. over-medication). Neglect includes the failure to assist with hygiene, the failure to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter, the failure to provide medical care and the failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration, to name a few. Goods and Services Necessary to Avoid Physical Harm or Mental Suffering include medical care, personal hygiene services, adequately heated and ventilated shelter, and protection from malnutrition.
How to Spot Elder Abuse
You know it in your gut. Listen to your inner voice. If it is telling you that something is wrong, it probably is.
Many clients who come to me have worried themselves sick over a situation involving a loved one. There is a familiar theme to their concern. They wonder why no one will listen to them. They ask for help, but no one responds. They are polite at first. Then they scream, shout, cry, beg, pray. They start to doubt themselves. They wonder whether they are exaggerating the problem. They wonder whether the experience they are going through is normal. They wonder if they are crazy to think that the care should be better.
Don't give in to the doubt. Our loved ones often cannot speak for themselves. You need to give them a voice. Keep talking. Someone, eventually, will hear you.
The law does not begin to describe the true nature of the abuse and neglect that occurs in nursing homes and elder care facilities. It is often difficult to know how your loved one is feeling or what he or she is experiencing because of overall difficulty communicating, dementia, confusion, forgetfulness, depression, and other physical and mental ailments which effect the elderly or ill. One should be alert to some common signs of abuse and neglect and be prepared to react and intervene on the elder's behalf once one or more of these signs are recognized.
- Red Marks
- Broken Bones
- Signs of over-medication or unauthorized use of psychotropic medications (i.e. lethargy, sleeping all the time, even during the day).
- Change in behavior (i.e. elder becomes combative, agitated - this may be a sign of a change in his or her condition or due to lack of pain management).
Mental or Emotional Abuse
- Change of Mood
- Abrupt change in communication status (i.e. elder stops talking)
- Sudden or Dramatic Weight Loss
- Loss of Appetite
- Pressure Sores/Bed Sores
- Broken Bones
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. The presence of one of these conditions is not conclusive proof of abuse or neglect. Likewise, abuse or neglect may manifest in some other way. Determining whether or not someone has been subjected to "Elder Abuse" often involves complex technical and medical assessments. Therefore, it is important to have an overall understanding of the elder's condition, and to look for a change in condition or behavior, then look for an explanation.
If you suspect someone has been the victim of elder abuse or neglect, we want to hear about it. Contact Us now.