In 2006, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched to heighten awareness for a growing concern in the United States: abuse of elderly persons by care providers.
According to World Health Organization, "Elder abuse is a violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productivity, isolation and despair." The elderly population is one of the fastest growing groups in American society, which makes abuse an ever-growing concern for elderly individuals and their families.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources estimates that, in the year 2000, the number of elderly persons (65+ years old) in the United States was 49,797,200. Research suggests that by the year 2030, the elderly population will exceed 91,000,000.
Who suffers elder abuse?
The National Center for Elder Abuse states that
one in ten elderly individuals, age 65 or older, will be a victim of elder abuse at some point.
Statistically, one in two elderly persons with dementia will suffer abuse. Elder abuse is a serious problem that affects many people, but only one in 14 cases of elder abuse will actually be brought to the attention of an authority figure or someone who can help.
Types of Elder Abuse
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identifies seven forms of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, abandonment, financial, and self-neglect. Physical abuse includes slapping, hitting, bruising, and other acts that can lead to an injury. Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual contact, including contact with someone who is incapable of providing consent.
Emotional abuse is difficult to identify, making it one of the most commonly unreported forms of abuse. Acts of emotional and psychological abuse include:
- Isolating the person from friends / family
- Using words / actions to intimidate the person
- Threatening an elderly person
- Humiliating or harassing an elderly person
Neglect and abandonment are serious forms of abuse. Neglect refers to any act neglects an elderly persons basic needs, such as food, clothing, and water. Abandonment occurs when a caregiver deserts an elderly person at home, a hospital, or care facility.
The last form of abuse occurs when someone takes advantage of an elderly person's financial assets. This includes cashing checks without consent, misusing or stealing money, or coercing an elderly person into providing financial information, etc.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse in the Context of Nursing Care Facilities
Elder abuse is preventable. Although some forms of elder abuse are difficult to identify, basic warning signs of abuse include:
- Lack of hygiene or clean / appropriate clothing
- Dehydration or unexplained weight loss (malnutrition)
- Lack of supervision (for persons with dementia)
- Pressure ulcers (also called "bed sores")
- Unexplained bruising, cuts, burns, or factures
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
- Sudden change in emotional well-being or mood
If you suspect that someone you love suffered elder abuse at a hospital or care facility, Norman Taylor & Associates is here to help. We are committed to helping victims of abuse obtain the financial compensation they deserve for their suffering and expenses. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact our Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorneys today.