What is elderly abuse? This is when someone intentionally or unintentionally harms, or puts in a potentially harmful situation, a vulnerable elderly person in their care. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, neglectful, or even financial. In a recent study, an incredible 8 to 10% of participants reported experiencing senior abuse in the previous year.
Do you suspect someone you know is experiencing elder abuse? Here are four facts you should be aware of.
1. Warning Signs
There are many warning signs of abuse that you can watch for. Physical abuse, for example, is often evident in bruises and broken bones seniors sustain. It can also be more subtle. Has your senior had broken glasses or jewelry? This can be a sign that abuse is taking place. Malnutrition, often assumed to be an effect of old age, can actually be a sign of neglect. Unfortunately, the truth is that 90% of abusers are related to the victim, so do not assume that relative care equates to a safe environment.
2. The Impact
Elder abuse takes a toll on its victims. Elder care attorneys and advocacy groups report that victims have a 300% higher risk of death, and victims exhibit more stress, are more likely to experience depression, and feel less in control of their lives. They also tend to have more health related problems.
3. What You Can Do
Only 7% of cases ever come to the attention of authorities. Many people are unaware that there are elderly abuse laws, which exist so that they can seek justice and make sure the abuser does not take advantage of anyone again. Elderly abuse laws in California cover multiple abuses including but not limited to rape, bodily harm, threats, embezzlement, and failure of an institution to report abuse.
4. Who Can Help
Elder abuse attorneys help you navigate these legal channels. Adult Protective Services can also be a useful resource for getting help and reporting suspected abuse. Elder care lawyers are also useful because they can perform a wide range of tasks. Not only can they prosecute perpetrators, but they can also petitition, for example, to have conservatorship changed, in cases where the perpetrator is also someone who has legal and financial control over the victim.
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