I am happy to host this guest post from NY lawyer Laurence Banville. In our family, we are blessed that my Mom has never displayed signs of abuse, but we are watchful and I'm glad to know all the signs.
When elders become physically weak, they are less likely to fight against bullying and attacks, which is why they are most vulnerable to people who take advantage of their weakened state. NursingHomeLegalNY.com states that elder abuse has been spreading across America for decades and thousands of seniors or elders fall prey to some type of abuse, whether it is from nursing home staff in professional facilities or from close family members in homes.
The signs of elder abuse are not always easy to identify because sometimes they overlap with regular issues like mental health deterioration and natural aging. According to a report from the National Center on Elder Abuse, nearly 1 in 10 Americans above 60 has gone through some version of elder abuse.
Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse
Mental health impairments, loneliness, physical disabilities and social isolation can trigger vulnerability to abuse. Some warning signs of elder abuse that caregivers can spot are:
- Neglect and physical abuse leading to pressure marks, bruises, abrasions, burns and broken bones.
- Inexplicable withdrawal from regular activities, unusual depression, strained relationships and regular arguments as a result of emotional abuse.
- Drastic and unexplained changes in financial circumstances because of financial abuse.
- Implausible explanation about financial changes or money disappearing from bank accounts without any explanations.
- More frequent cash withdrawals.
- Dirty clothes, soiled diapers and lack of proper medication for extended periods.
- Bedsores, poor hygiene and unattended medical assistance due to neglect.
- Constant yells and threats leading to depression and social retreat.
Elder abuse can result in physical, mental and emotional scars - ranging from minor bruises to death. For older people, abuse can be especially serious because of their heightened vulnerability. In some instances, even minor injuries can lead to permanent repercussions. Data from the World Health Organization indicated that elder abuse victims are likely to die twice more than those who didn't report abuse according to a 13-year follow-up study.
Elder abuse may be deliberate in many instances while in some it is because of sheer negligence or incompetence of a person. Caregivers must be concerned about the possibility of elder abuse by all sorts of people and should look for these warning signs in the elders they look after.
Understanding Elder Abuse
An elder abuse study in New York State established that 76 out of every 1,000 New Yorkers were victimized because of elder abuse within a one-year timeframe. The same study also found a huge gap between the amount of elder abuse cases reported by older New Yorkers and the number of cases served in the system. The incidence of reporting was nearly 24 times more than the number of referred cases in the system. This indicates that elders are not getting the justice they need.
Most states have penalties for victimizing older adults, including New York, but the situation remains a problem until adequate measures are undertaken to bring the guilty to justice. For this, family members and caregivers must be able to spot the signs of abuse in order to take action against the perpetrators.
Protecting Victims Of Elder Abuse
Most seniors don't report abuse because they fear the consequences later. Some fear retaliation, while others are worried that there is no one to care for them.
Identifying the warning signs of elder abuse in nursing homes or at home is important for caregivers so that they can take the first step towards protection of the elderly. If someone faces signs of physical, emotional, mental, sexual and financial abuse, then caregivers must report this information to the relevant authorities to prevent this from recurring over and over again.
Caregivers should watch out for these warning signs of elder abuse so that they can report it if necessary. it is recommended to call 911 if caregivers feel that elderly people are in life threatening danger. Never assume that someone else will handle the problem or the fact that the older person can take care of himself/herself because this simply may not be possible.
Author Bio: Laurence Banville, Esquire
Laurence Banville is the managing partner of Nursing Home Legal NY and Banville Law. He has a reputation for thorough preparation and a balanced approach to his clients. He is a down-to earth bright young attorney who has been honored with the Top 40 under 40 award. This recognition is given to the top 40 ranked attorneys across the United States who are under 40 years of age. He represents plaintiffs and in particular of nursing home abuse.