What Is Elder Abuse and Neglect?

Data available from the National Council on Aging Shows that approximately one out of every ten people over the age of 60 experience some form of elder abuse each year in the United States. This is an alarming statistic. The abuse of some of the most vulnerable people in our society should never occur. Unfortunately, elder abuse is a major problem, and one that not many people realize is happening under their noses. Estimates show that around 20% of the total population in this country will be aged 65 or older by the year 2030, so it is vital that we understand how to recognize elder abuse and neglect.

What is the most common type of elder abuse?

There are various types of elder abuse that can occur in nursing homes or at the hands of in-home caregivers. The five most common types of elder abuse or neglect include:

  1. Physical abuse. This includes any physical harm inflicted intentionally on an elderly person, such as punching, shoving, kicking, slapping, and more.
  2. Sexual abuse. This includes any sexual contact between an elderly person and their caregiver.
  3. Psychological and emotional abuse. This is a non-physical form of abuse and can include threats, intimidation, isolation, destruction of property, and more.
  4. Neglect. If caregivers intentionally withhold the basic needs of an elderly person, including food, water, medical care, hygiene, and more, this is considered neglect.
  5. Financial abuse. When caregivers use their access to an elderly person’s money or identification documents for their own personal gain, they are committing financial abuse.

How do you prove elder abuse?

Proving elder abuse can be difficult because the signs and symptoms of most elder abuse also mimic the signs and symptoms of injuries that are common amongst the elderly population. First, if you suspect that your loved one is being abused, whether in a nursing home or by another caregiver, you need to report your suspicions to the authorities as soon as possible. This establishes a record of possible abuse and allows authorities to investigate. Please be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms of abuse and make a report to appropriate authorities:

  • Unexplained versus, broken bones, skin tears, lacerations, or broken teeth
  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers that do not get better
  • Malnutrition or dehydration
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Painful reactions from the elderly person when they are touched

It is also important to understand various behavioral signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect. This can include:

  • Sudden changes in a person’s mood or emotions
  • The elderly person showing signs of fear, agitation, anger, or anxiety
  • Confusion or disorientation that is out of the ordinary
  • Depression
  • Fear around certain staff members or volunteers

By using your instincts and looking out for these signs and symptoms of abuse, you need to do what is necessary to ensure your loved one is cared for and protected. Importantly, you need to seek assistance from a Chicago elder abuse attorney who will understand how to navigate the legal channels to secure compensation for your loved one.