CHICAGO – Families seeking additional help to take care of their loved ones may want to think twice, as elder abuse is on the rise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half a million seniors over the age of 60 will experience some form of elder abuse in 2013. The abuse can occur in the home, elderly care facilities and hospitals. The injuries can result from when nursing homes do not provide residents with care they deserve, leaving them with:
Malnutrition and dehydration
Serious illnesses like pneumonia
Nausea and vomiting
Depression and anxiety
Recent studies claim that 7.6 to 10 percent of adults experience elder abuse, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse. The study did note that there are five common forms of abuse families should know.
Physical abuse occurs when a person is threatened with bodily harm or is injured, as noted by the CDC. “This includes slapping, punching, scratching, and burning. It is also considered abuse to improperly restrain someone. Physical abuse can result in death.” Families will often find unexplained injuries on their loved ones in this form of abuse.
A person may force an elderly person against their own will in a sexual act or use their mental health against them. An elderly person with mental illness, for example, may not understand what is happening to them or was unconscious at the time.
The elderly may be threatened, belittled, and controlled by the caregiver in an aggressive way.
“With passive and active neglect the caregiver fails to meet the physical, social, and/or emotional needs of the older person,” says Linda M. Woolf, Ph.D. of Webster University. In her article “Elder Abuse and Neglect,” she says, “The difference between active and passive neglect lies in the intent of the caregiver. With active neglect, the caregiver intentionally fails to meet his/her obligations towards the older person. With passive neglect, the failure is unintentional; often the result of caregiver overload or lack of information concerning appropriate care giving strategies.”
In a recent study, elderly adults say financial abuse was the biggest crime against them. In “Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study,” it claims that major financial exploitation was self-reported at a rate of 41 per 1,000 surveyed, which was higher than self-reported rates of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.
HOW TO PREVENT IT
Truly, elder abuse will not stop on its own. Someone else needs to step in and help. If you think that an older person is in urgent danger, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, contact adult protective services. Keep in mind of the importance of staying in touch with your loved ones and make sure their legal affairs are in order so nobody mistreats them mentally, physically or financially.
Jonathan Rosenfeld is an Illinois lawyer with a nationwide practice. He represents members of our society who have been seriously injured or killed due to the irresponsible acts of an individual or company. The injured have the same rights as everyone else — to be treated with compassion and respect — but their vulnerability means they need special protection and representation against those who injure, neglect or abuse them. Rosenfeld and his team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have an excellent track history to getting clients the service they want and getting them the results the need.
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