Elder abuse is quiet and common. It occurs to people of all incomes and socio-economic backgrounds. Elder abuse is perfectly at home in a residence or a nursing home. If you have an elderly loved one, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of abuse.
The New York Department for the Aging (DFTA) cites a study that found 76 in 1,000 seniors aged 60 and older in New York State were abused over a one-year period of time. The actual number of victims is probably far higher. There are a myriad of ways that senior citizens are abused every day.
According to the National Institute on Aging, women are more likely to be abused than men, but men also suffer abuse from neglect or at the hands of caregivers. Those who have suffered impairment such as a stroke, or have dementia, may have trouble telling someone they are being abused. Worse yet, seniors of all ages are often dismissed as making things up.
Regardless of background or income, humans of all ages deserve respect and decency. Just as with other forms of abuse and violence, elder abuse is often a crime of intimacy. People most likely to abuse an elderly person include:
- A close relative responsible for their care
- Caregivers in nursing or assisted living facilities
- Fraudsters who falsely befriend seniors in order to take advantage of them
What does elder abuse look like?
There are several forms of elder abuse including the following:
- Sexual assault by forcing a senior to witness or participate in sexual acts or inappropriate touching
- Physical abuse through pinching, slapping, hitting, or physical harm
- Neglect occurs when a responsible caregiver fails to provide for basic needs of an elderly person
- Emotional abuse is a common form that includes belittling, ignoring, threatening, or treating a senior in a way that is psychologically damaging
- Abandonment happens when a senior is left to care for themselves when they are unable to manage
- Financial abuse is also common and occurs when relatives, caregivers, and thieves take advantage of an elderly person to obtain money or valuables
Common signs of abuse include pressure sores, bruises, poor hygiene, and unexplained injuries. Money and valuables may disappear without explanation. Traumatized seniors, especially those unable to communicate easily, may appear shut down or highly agitated, may rock back and forth, or sleep too little or too much.
If you visit a loved one in a nursing or other facility and staff will not allow you to visit privately, seek help immediately.
What can you do if you suspect a loved one is being hurt?
If you suspect a loved one is the target of abuse, it is important to act. Speak with an experienced elder law attorney about your options. Consider reporting the abuse to your local agency in New York. Many seniors cannot speak for themselves when they are being abused—be sure that you help speak up for them.
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Lissner & Lissner LLP is a trusted legal resource for clients seeking experienced representation with elder law, estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, and representation of those with property claims or estate planning needs who were victims of the Nazi regime. When you have questions, we offer straightforward, knowledgeable legal service. Contact us or call (212) 307-1499 today.