Do You Suspect Abuse or Neglect?

Instances of abuse and neglect of the elderly happen every day and under a number of circumstances. Simply put, elder and nursing home abuse refers to the actions or inactions taken against a senior citizen, either directly or indirectly, by an individual or an institution which results in harm or potential harm to the elder person. The abuse or neglect experienced by your loved ones can be physical, emotional or financial. The abuse or neglect can take place in a care facility, hospital, or even a private home. The signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect are not always easy to identify and it’s helpful to know what to look for.

Physical elder abuse is the most common and obvious type of abuse and is typically the easiest to detect. It often includes mishandling or beatings that result in cuts; scratches; bruises; welts; discoloration; open wounds; broken bones; torn, stained or bloody clothing; or restraints. Physical elder abuse my also include over-medication resulting in drowsiness or observed in unfocused blank stares. Most serious examples of physical elder abuse include sexual abuse or injuries that require emergency treatment, hospitalization, or that result in unexplained or unexpected death.

Emotional elder abuse often accompanies physical abuse. It is also often subtle and may be more difficult to recognize. Emotional abuse includes such things as name-calling and insulting; swearing; intimidating, threatening or harassing; ignoring, confining, or isolating; humiliation; or threats to them or their loved ones. The results of this abuse may be observed in changes in your loved ones behavior. For example, your loved one my begin acting unusually upset or agitated, nervous, anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or noncommunicative. Uncharacteristic rocking or thumb sucking may also be the result of serious emotional elder abuse.

Financial abuse occurs when assets of the resident are improperly used or diverted by caregivers, conservators, trustees, financial planners, banks, or family and friends. Examples of financial abuse include illegally taking, misusing, or concealing funds, property or assets and identity theft.

Elder neglect occurs when there is a failure of a senior’s caretaker to execute the degree of care expected from a person in their position. It is often more subtle than physical or emotional abuse and can be difficult to determine. Common examples of neglect include failure to assist with personal hygiene (for example, bathing or brushing teeth); failure to provide ample food, clothing or shelter; failure to provide medical treatment for mental and physical health concerns; failure to address health and safety hazards; and failure to acknowledge unsanitary conditions. Injuries resulting due to negligence might include falls, broken bones, bed sores, malnutrition, dehydration, improper wound care or other injuries which result in severe medical complications and even death.

Sadly, because instances of elder abuse and neglect are not always readily identifiable, it is not uncommon for these forms of abuse to go on for months or even years at a time. Victims of elder abuse or neglect may not tell you what is happening for fear of retaliation so it is important that you know what to look for and that you are prepared to take action on their behalf. If you have witnessed elder abuse or neglect or suspect that it is occurring, you have a moral obligation to do what you can to make it stop.

If you suspect or have witnessed nursing home, assisted living or hospital abuse or neglect, contact Injury and Wrongful Death specialist H. Micheal Wright now at 480.461.5347 .

Click here for a list of other common symptoms and indications of abuse and neglect.