What Is Elder Abuse?

Legal Tips and Resources

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is the any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver (which could be a paid professional or ever that elderly person’s friends or family) that causes harm or the risk of harm to an elderly, vulnerable person. The types of elderly abuse vary, but all are troubling.

  • Physical Abuse: Threatening to cause or causing physical injury or pain to an elderly person or depriving an elderly person of their basic needs (such as water, food, medication, etc.)
  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual contact between the caregiver and the elderly person at any time.
  • Abandonment: When the caregiver who has assumed responsibility for the elder simply abandons them and leaves them without care.
  • Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental anguish or causing distress through acts that can be either verbal or physical.
  • Financial Exploitation: Misusing the funds of a vulnerable elder, mismanaging the assets or property of an elder or using an elder’s funds when they are unable to give permission.
  • Neglect: Failure to provide the elder with food, water, shelter, or health care that can have serious consequences.

What are some signs of elder abuse or neglect?

  • Physical symptoms such as bruises, abrasions, burns, broken or fractured bones can be an indicator of physical abuse or mistreatment.
  • Bedsores, poor hygiene and weight loss can also point to possible neglect.
  • Changes in the elderly person’s mood, including depression, grogginess or a change in their level of alertness.
  • Sudden changes to their financial situations may be an indicator someone is taking from their funds.
  • Arguments with their caregivers and/or tension when their caregivers are in the room.

Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect is all too common. But why?

The thought of anyone harming your loved one, especially one who is unable to defend themselves, if a hard one to grapple with, and often families and friends are unable to identify the signs of abuse or neglect. Not only is it difficult to comprehend that abuse or neglect may be occurring, but oftentimes the signs may not present themselves as abuse or neglect, but rather symptomatic of the aging process. So what puts elderly people at risk?

  • Social Isolation: If an elderly person does not have anyone to advocate for them or to point out when they are being mistreated, abused or neglected, then those who are mistreating them have less chance of being caught.
  • Mental impairment like dementia or Alzheimer’s make a senior citizen more vulnerable to abuse because they have trouble remembering things and are less likely to be believed should they notify someone of the abuse.
  • History of domestic violence or past abuse are factors in elderly neglect as well.
  • Living with someone else may also increase the likelihood for abuse to occur. Proximity will always make it easier to take advantage of someone financially or even physically.

If you think that you or a loved one is suffering from any of these types of abuse, the next step is to do something about it. Reporting elderly neglect can see daunting, but not when you have an experienced Nursing Abuse Lawyer trusts on your side.