Most people are familiar with the term elder abuse, but how often does elder abuse occur? Unfortunately, the answer is very often. That’s why individuals must understand what constitutes elder abuse and the warning signs that their loved one is experiencing neglect.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse includes any intentional or negligent actions taken by caregivers that cause harm to vulnerable adults. It is illegal in all 50 states, and an abuser can be a family member, friend, medical professional, or nursing home staff member. Essentially, nursing abuse can come from anyone who has been trusted with caring for a vulnerable adult.
There are many different forms of elder abuse, including:
- Physical abuse: Intentionally inflicting pain through physical violence, restraints, or chemical means.
- Sexual abuse: Coercing or forcing a vulnerable person into sexual acts without their consent.
- Neglect: Failing to provide a senior adult with the necessary food, shelter, or healthcare they need to survive.
- Emotional abuse: Intentionally causing a vulnerable adult to suffer mental anguish or distress through threatening or intimidating behavior.
- Financial exploitation: Illegally seizing, concealing, or misusing a vulnerable person’s funds or assets.
Elder abuse is known as a silent problem. Since a vulnerable person may not be aware of their abuse or have the means to seek help, family members must be on the lookout for warning signs of elder abuse. They include:
- Unexplained injuries (such as broken bones, bruises, and burns)
- Withdrawal from everyday activities and socialization
- Sudden changes in financial situations
- Bedsores and poor hygiene
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Elder Abuse Prevalence in America
Unfortunately, elder abuse is very common in the United States. Elder abuse facts from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) show that:
- One in five million older Americans experience abuse each year
- Elder abuse can cause victims to suffer $36.5 billion in financial losses
- One in ten Americans over 60 have experienced elder abuse or neglect
- Only one in every 24 cases of elder abuse gets reported to the authorities
- 60% of all elder abusers are family members
Additional studies have discovered that elder abuse is common in institutions like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Research statistics and data from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) show that the most prevalent abuse in institution settings are:
- Psychological abuse (33.4%)
- Physical abuse (14.1%)
- Financial abuse (13.8%)
- Nursing home neglect (11.6%)
- Sexual abuse (1.9%)
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse might become more common in the future. The U.S. will see a 50% increase in the number of adults who require nursing home care by 2030, and the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to double by 2050. These numbers are likely to lead to more cases of elder abuse across the country.
When Is Elder Abuse Most Common?
An individual is most likely to fall victim to elder abuse if they:
- Suffer from cognitive disabilities (such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia)
- Do not have family members or social support
- Are women (the rate for crimes against women over 65 are higher than men)
- Were abused earlier in life
In addition, younger elders have a slightly higher risk of becoming abuse victims if they live with adult children because children are one of the most common perpetrators of elder abuse. Statistics also show a higher rate of elder abuse among adults in rural communities compared to urban areas.
Who Is Liable in an Elder Abuse Claim?
When elder abuse occurs, the first step in pursuing justice is identifying who is liable for your loved one’s injuries. But determining liability in an elder abuse claim depends on where the abuse occurred and what parties were involved. In some cases, there may be multiple parties to blame for your loved one’s trauma.
Possible parties who may be at fault for elder abuse include:
- Medical professionals: Medical staff have a duty to provide reasonable care to their patients. A physician, nurse, dietician, physical therapist, or surgeon may have failed to provide adequate care to your loved one, making them liable for elder neglect.
- Nursing home staff: Staff members must take reasonable action to ensure residents are safe and healthy. Failing to do so can result in elder abuse.
- Residential care facilities: The care center itself may be liable for your loved one’s damages if their staff members inflicted harm or the center failed to take preventative measures to ensure safety for its residents.
- Appointed caregivers: Unfortunately, people who take on caring for a vulnerable person often abuse or neglect them. These people may include other family members, neighbors, roommates, or spouses.
If you are unsure who is to blame for your loved one’s abuse, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area. These legal experts will review your case to determine factors that contributed to your loved one’s abuse. A lawyer will make sure to hold every liable party accountable for their negligence and seek financial justice for your loved one.
Let Our Attorneys Fight for Your Loved One’s Justice
Elder abuse is common, but a nursing home abuse lawyer will make sure that your loved one recovers from their trauma. If you believe your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, let our legal team handle your case. We fight for justice and hold every party accountable for their negligence.
If you’re a spouse, child, or have power of attorney, you can take action by filing a personal injury claim or nursing home abuse lawsuit. Contact us now to learn more about what we can do for your family.