When an elderly loved one starts showing signs of unusual depression or antisocial behavior, physical bruises, or sudden changes in his or her financial situation, it may be the sign of elder abuse. In general terms, elder abuse is defined in seven different categories:
- Physical Abuse — inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, such as slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
- Sexual Abuse — non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
- Neglect — the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
- Exploitation — the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
- Emotional Abuse — inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, such as humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
- Abandonment — desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
- Self-neglect — the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks which threaten his/her own health or safety.
Of course, elderly loved ones may become depressed or may adopt self-neglectful habits through no fault of anybody else.
Yet, in a startling number of cases, elder abuse is attributable to the negligence, the exploitation, the fraud, or the physical or sexual misconduct of the institutions and the individuals who provide services and care to our elderly loved ones. This may include nursing homes and adult care facilities, health care professionals and paraprofessionals, and even family members, including spouses and children.
Every week, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick receive phone calls from clients detailing horrendous accounts of physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. In some cases, the stories reflect negligence; in other instances, they demonstrate outright reckless or fraud.
Our law firm is dedicated to stamp out these kinds of mistreatment. If a senior member of your family, or a friend or loved one is a victim of elder abuse, please contact us with the details.
The U.S. Administration on Aging has identified a number of the tell-tale signs to help you identify when a problem may exist. If your senior family member has any of these problems, listed below, speak up and call us:
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
- Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
- Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.
Senior Citizen Domestic Violence
Another disturbing aspect of elder abuse is domestic violence perpetrated upon the senior members of our society. Senior violence may be committed by younger people or by other seniors; it may be perpetrated by caregivers in subtle ways.
In fact, in many cases, abusers use a pattern of coercive tactics, such as isolation, threats, intimidation, manipulation, and violence, to gain and maintain power over their victims. They tell their victims where they can go, whom they can see, and how they can spend their money—in other words, they may micro-manage their lives and may control their decisions. Some abusers use their role and power to financially exploit their victims.
Others feel that they are entitled to get their way because they are the “head of the household,” or because they are younger and physically stronger than their victim is.
Tackling these kinds of cases is often very difficult because the lines between elder abuse and domestic violence become blurry, and the abusers are often believed to be other family members. In some states, an action for guardianship, for a protection order or a restraining order may be warranted.