According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, roughly 10 percent of older Americans experience some form of elder abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that, for each case that is reported or confirmed, there are roughly 23 cases that remain unconfirmed. The mistreatment can be in the form of physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, or financial abuse. No one wants to assume that their loved one is in danger, especially under the care of nursing home staff. However, older individuals are particularly vulnerable, which is exactly why abuse and neglect occurs. Therefore, if you have an older loved one that is in the nursing home or some form of assisted living facility, it is important that you be aware of elder abuse and neglect signs.
Elder Abuse Signs to Keep an Eye out for
While there are certain signs of abuse and neglect, it doesn't mean that abuse or neglect has necessarily occurred. However, you should at least question signs like the following:
- Physical Signs – Pressure marks, bruises, abrasions, broken bones, burn marks, unexplained injuries.
- Emotional Signs – Unusual depression and/or confusion, unexplained withdrawal from their regular activities, strained relationships with friends and family members, frequent arguments with loved ones and/or caregivers, agitation or increasingly violent behaviors.
- Financial Signs – A sudden change in their financial situation, unpaid bills, unexplained bank withdrawals, unusual bank activity, personal belongings missing.
- Signs of Neglect – Poor hygiene, bedsores, sudden weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration.
- Other Signs – An increase in susceptibility to illness, persistent soreness and pain, difficulty sleeping.
Understanding the Effects of Abuse on Older Americans
It has been reported that older Americans who have experienced elder abuse have a much higher rate of mortality than those who have not had to experience elder abuse. In addition, research shows that financial elder abuse is costing older Americans billions of dollars each year, though it isn't clear exactly how much.
As you can see, it is very important to take elder abuse seriously. The effects are devastating from every angle. Make sure you know the signs and watch for them. Then, if you suspect abuse or neglect, speak to the appropriate individuals at the facility to try to find out what happened. If necessary, report the incident to the authorities and then reach out to an experienced attorney to see if you have a case. He or she can help you gather evidence and get compensation for your loved one.