Is your loved one showing signs of elder abuse?
More than 8 million elderly Americans receive a form of long-term care every year. This care takes place in homes, residential care facilities, hospice, and nursing homes. Many American families trust these facilities and agencies to provide their loved ones with a good quality of life.
Yet, 1 out of 10 Americans over the age of 60 experience elder abuse. This totals 800,000 people on an annual basis. How do you know if your family member is one of them?
Below, we go into the top 7 signs and symptoms of elder abuse. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Recurring Injuries
Have you visited your loved one and noticed they have recurring, unexplained injuries?
An increased frequency of physical injuries might indicate elder abuse. Some injuries for which to watch out include:
- Cuts, bruises, and abrasions
- Broken bones
- Binding marks on wrists
- Drug overdoses
If any of these occur without explanation, you should investigate further. Hire an attorney and file a personal injury lawsuit. Press criminal charges if you believe they apply to your loved one’s situation.
2. Poor Personal Hygiene
Has your loved one’s personal hygiene or space cleanliness deteriorated since you placed them in someone’s care?
If so, this might indicate signs of elder abuse. In particular, elders undergoing mistreatment might have unkempt or unwashed hair. They might not have had their teeth brushed. Abused elders also often wear seasonally inappropriate clothing, like short sleeves in the winter.
Their home might get left uncleaned or in disrepair. If you visit their personal space and notice it looks in poor condition, address the matter with the agency in charge of their care. You can also consider moving them to a different agency or facility.
3. Uneasy Relationship with Caregiver
Your loved one should get along with their caregiver. Some disagreements may arise on occasion, but they should serve as the exception, not the norm. Their caregiver should maintain a professional relationship with your loved one and your family.
Regular tension between your loved one and their caregiver indicates elder abuse might be taking place. Additional signs include the elder withdrawing from social activities, either on their own or because their caregiver won’t let them go. An abusive caregiver may also not allow people to drop by without notice or display aggression toward your loved one.
4. Medical Neglect
Caregivers have the responsibility to look after the medical needs of elderly people. Failing to care for the medical needs of a person in their care comprises elder abuse.
Abusive caregivers might not administer medication to your loved one. They might neglect to equip them with daily medical aids, such as glasses or hearing aids. They may also not give them proper food or nutrition.
Other abusive caregivers leave their clients when they are in vulnerable states. This includes abandoning people who suffer from dementia.
If you witness medical neglect, you should take your loved one out of the situation as soon as possible. Get them medical attention if needed and pursue legal cases against the caregiver or agency.
5. Behavioral Changes
Have you noticed your loved one’s behavior changing?
Often, a person’s behavior changes as they age. Yet, this alteration often happens at a gradual rate. A sudden change in your loved one’s behavior might constitute a cause for concern.
In particular, you should pay attention if they display signs of anxiety, fear, or depression. An abused elder may also startle more than the average person, avoid eye contact, or act apathetic. They may experience mood swings or start rocking back and forth as a form of self-soothing. Others experience nightmares or psychosomatic issues. Some speak of their abuse, but others may not.
6. Emotional and Sexual Abuse
Does the caregiver belittle or say harmful things to your loved one? Do they behave well in front of some people but exhibit a mean-spirited attitude toward the recipients of their care?
This might constitute a sign of emotional abuse. Some signs of emotional abuse include withdrawing from social activities, unexpected depressive episodes, and rocking. Sometimes, adults also complain of their caregivers being unkind to them.
Sexual abuse, though rare, sometimes occurs. According to the law, sexual abuse constitutes any sexual activity to which one party does not or cannot consent. Bruising around genitals or breasts may indicate sexual abuse as may torn undergarments or unexplained bleeding.
7. Financial Abuse
Sometimes, elders have difficulty looking after their own finances. When this happens, another person needs to manage their financial affairs.
This leaves the elder vulnerable to elder financial abuse or exploitation. This occurs when someone misuses their power over the money for their own financial gain. As a loved one, you should ensure your loved one remains financially secure throughout their elderly years.
Some signs of elder financial abuse include unpaid bills, large or unexplained withdrawals from their account, new authorized users on their bank account, and eviction notices. It might also include sudden changes to wills or powers of attorney or entering financial agreements your loved one doesn’t understand.
You can file a personal injury lawsuit against people who commit elder financial abuse. Such lawsuits help your relative regain their lost money and financial standing.
What to Do When You See Signs of Elder Abuse
So, what should you do when you see signs of elder abuse?
First, you should address any urgent medical needs. Then, you should pursue legal action against the caregiver or the responsible agency. If you want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your loved one, let our team help.
Our lawyers have nearly 150 years of experience combined. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!