Elder abuse is defined by the National Center on Elder Abuse as “intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes or can cause harm to a vulnerable elder.”
When a couple recently visited their 91-year-old friend in her home, they noticed that her normally well-coiffed hair was not brushed. Her caregiver was brusque with the couple and refused to assist the elderly woman with pouring tea to her guests. The elderly woman was obviously embarrassed, and the young couple was shocked when the caregiver replied, “That’s not what I do.”
It was obvious to the young couple that their friend was being neglected and maybe even abused, but they did not know what to do or how to handle the situation.
Elder abuse is underreported for many reasons: fear of retaliation for reporting by the elderly person, lack of training of professionals to spot elder neglect and abuse, lack of cognitive ability from the elderly patient, and hesitation to report abuse because the caretaker is a family member.
Statistics on Elder Abuse
In the United States every year nearly 5 million of the elderly are neglected, abused or victims of exploitation. Only one in twenty-four cases of elder abuse or neglect are reported at all, and only one in fourteen are reported to law enforcement. Excluding financial abuse, one in ten older persons experience elder abuse. White females are at highest risk of elder abuse, and the older a person becomes, the higher the risk of abuse.
Signs to look for if you suspect an elderly family member of being neglected: unkempt appearance, lack of proper hygiene, inadequate nutrition, and an unsafe environment.
If you are a concerned family member or friend of an older person and suspect abuse or neglect, there are things you can do to help. Be sure to report any signs of abuse or neglect to the authorities; check medications with the refill date to make sure that all medications are being given at the proper time; be aware of the elderly person’s financial statements and credit card usage; call or visit the person as often as possible; and contact the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-877-477-3646.
If you or a family member has been the victim of elder abuse or neglect in the New York area, contact the Fitzgerald Law Firm. With extensive experience in elder abuse cases, the attorneys at the Fitzgerald Law Firm can help you build your elder abuse or neglect case. Call them today for a free consultation.