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What is Elder Abuse?

What is elder abuse? In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder.

Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse and abandonment are considered forms of elder abuse. Self-neglect is also considered mistreatment.

Who is at risk?  Elder abuse can occur anywhere; in the home, in nursing homes or other institutions. It affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures and races. Studies reveal that women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized. Dementia is a significant risk factor. Isolation, mental health and substance-abuse issues of both abusers and victims – are also risk factors.

NEGLECT

Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean and appropriate clothing.

Lack of medical aids (glasses, walker, teeth, medications)

A person with dementia left unsupervised

A person confined to bed left without care

A home cluttered, filthy, in disrepair, or having fire and safety hazards

A home without functional amenities; refrigerator, stove, adequate heating/cooling, etc.

Look for untreated pressure sores, infections, dehydration, malnourishment, multiple falls, elopement, and aspiration pneumonia.

FINANCIAL ABUSE/EXPLOITATION

Lack of amenities which victim could afford

Vulnerable elder/adult “voluntarily” giving uncharacteristically excessive financial reimbursement/gifts for needed care and companionship

Caregiver has control of elder’s money but is failing to provide for elder’s needs

Vulnerable elder/adult has signed property transfers (Power of Attorney, new will, etc.) but is unable to comprehend the transaction or what it means

PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, or other

Caregiver isolates elder (doesn’t let anyone into the home or speak to the elder)

Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, overly concerned about spending money, or uncaring

PHYSICAL/SEXUAL ABUSE

Inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores or burns

Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases

What should you do if you suspect abuse? Report your concerns. Most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. The agency receiving the report will ask what you observed, who was involved, and who they can contact to learn more.  You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions.

To report suspected elder abuse or dependent-adult abuse in a nursing home or long-term care facility, contact The Peck Law Group, APC toll free at 1-866-999-9085  or at our website www.thepecklawgroup.com.

Source: National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) – Red Flags of Abuse.

Steven Peck, ESQ.

About the Author

For over 37 years, his dedication has been unyielding and his approach to client representation and care is deeply respected by his colleagues and clients alike. Steven Peck has extensive trial experience and has recovered millions of dollars in damages for clients in lawsuits.


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