10
Dec
2021

Handling Elder Abuse the Right Way

Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act that subjects senior citizens to physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatments. Negligence mostly results from arrogance, but it could also occur when caregivers hope for financial or material gain. Elder abuse can also be an act that might expose a senior citizen under care to the risk of harm. Fortunately, an elder abuse attorney can help.

Although elder abuse offenses are considered criminal offenses, some are not felonies but misdemeanors, attracting lighter penalties. Penalties for misdemeanors are usually fines or community service, while punishment for a felony is usually imprisonment. However, those who abuse elders deserve to be punished.

Types of Elder Abuse

The elderly are easy targets for abuse due to declining physical and mental states that come with age. They easily lose memory and are subsequently taken advantage of. Additionally, isolating the elderly makes them lonely and unwanted, increasing the need for attachment. This is why they end up clinging to abusive caregivers. Under-reporting of elder abuse cases and the lack of a standard reporting system makes it difficult to determine the full scope of elder abuses cases. However, the National Center on Elder Abuse acknowledge the following as types of elder abuse:

Physical Abuse

This is where a caregiver uses excess physical force that might cause injury to the body, physical pain, or/ and impairment on a senior citizen.

Sexual Abuse

This is where there is any form of non-consensual sex with an elderly person.

Emotional Abuse

This is where verbal acts or otherwise are used to inflict emotional anguish and pain on a senior citizen.

Financial and/or Material Exploitation

This is where a caregiver uses funds or property belonging to a senior citizen without their express authority.

Abandonment

It occurs when a person has physical custody of senior citizens’ desserts or fails to provide care as required.

Self-Neglect

Acts of an elderly person that risks their health and/ or safety.

Recognizing Elder Abuse

Signs of Physical Abuse:

  • Malnutrition and dehydration, bedsores, and unexplained weight loss.
  • Physical injuries (visible and invisible): Usually painful on contact.
  • Skin tears.
  • Broken bones or teeth.

Signs of Financial Abuse:

  • Suspicious banking.
  • Unauthorized financial transactions.
  • Missing funds from accounts.
  • Questionable changes on wills or property deeds.
  • Missing valuable possessions.

Behavioral Signs of Elder Abuse:

  • Agitation and anger.
  • Confusion or disorientation.
  • Being defensive.
  • Depression and/or withdrawal.
  • Isolation: fear of speaking to people.
  • Being non-responsive.

Signs of Abuse by a Caregiver

  • The elder has no permission to speak when the caregiver is not around.
  • Caregiver’s indifference towards the elderly.
  • Harsh restriction and unnecessary isolation.
  • Contradicting explanations for incidences by the caregivers.

Mandated Reporting

A mandated reporter is an individual who’s required, by law, to report cases of elder abuse, thanks to the nature of their work. Mandated reporting aims at preventing and ending the likelihood of elder abuse at the earliest possible instance. The Penal Code provides absolute immunity to mandated reporters against criminal or civil liability.

Who Can Qualify for Mandated Reporting in Elder Abuse?

Most states classify anyone tasked with providing caregiver services to a senior citizen as a mandated reporter for elder abuse. When elder abuse happens in a nursing home facility, medical staff is required, by law, to report the abuse, as observed. Depending the state/ jurisdiction, mandated reporters may include:

  • Health care providers (home and away)
  • Nursing home staff.

Who Must Elder Abuse Be Reported To?

Again, this depends with the laws of the state in question or jurisdiction. However, mandated reporters should contact the Adult Protection Services (APS) or such an authority for elder abuse reporting.

APS agencies are meant to shield vulnerable adults and the elderly from abuse, neglect, or other forms of exploitation. These agencies work with traditional law enforcement authorities, although the two have different functions. Failure to report, including abandonment, unnecessary isolation, or any other form of elder abuse that results to the death or personal injury is considered a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment or a fine. There’s no excuse for not reporting elder abuse, even if one is not a mandated reporter. Besides, everyone should report elder abuse on humanitarian grounds.

Talk To an Elder Abuse Attorney

Once elder abuse is reported to the relevant authorities, a family member should contact an elder abuse attorney and discuss the appropriate legal options available. The Attorneys will help the family file civil lawsuit, pursue compensation for medical bills and other related expenses stemming from elder abuse.

Your case will be based on negligence; it’s the only avenue that guarantees compensation for claims of elder abuse.

Note that it’s hard to stand up against a nursing home facility. But if you have some legal representation, you will be good to go.

To understand the details of your case, your elder abuse attorney can schedule a free consultation to ensure your loved one gets justice.

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