Elder abuse can be defined as avoidable harm inflicted upon a senior citizen, most often within the setting of a nursing home. It is found that about 11 percent of senior citizens in the U.S. today are affected in some way by elder abuse, and the elder abuse trends are spreading in such a way that states are starting to adopt stricter standards regarding the quality of nursing homes and nursing home staffers.
If a loved one currently resides in a nursing home, or if you are planning to move a loved one into a nursing home, you should know the common forms of elder abuse and how to identify them.
5 Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse takes many forms, ranging from physical abuse to emotional abuse, and beyond.
Such abuse of a senior citizen is easier to define than the other forms of elder abuse. For signs that your loved one has been physically abused look for bruises, cuts or abrasions, broken bones. However, physical abuse is not simply hitting, slapping or handling roughly. Forms of this abuse extend to forcefully feeding a resident, sexually abusing a resident, or restraining a resident. There are in fact two forms of restraint of a resident: physically restraining, by way of straps or belts, or chemical restraints, which employs psychotropic drugs to renders a resident vegetative.
This form of elder abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Emotional harm inflicted upon a resident can come in the form of insults, threats, intimidation, or humiliation. Another devastating form of emotional abuse is isolation, from family, friends, other residents. Signs of such abuse are changes in mood (despondency, depression, fear). The goal of serial emotional abuse of a resident is sometimes to keep a resident from complaining or being “difficult.” However, this form of abuse is occasionally used to coerce a change in the resident’s will.
There are many ways in which a nursing home staffer can exploit a resident financially. Use of physical and emotional can often play into this plot. Staffers who commit this crime typically target residents more prone to confusion. As was mentioned above, a change in a resident’s will may be the goal. But that is not the only form of financial abuse. There is also the possibility of accessing a resident’s bank account or credit cards.
Elder neglect is abuse which takes many forms. The simplest explanation of elder neglect is to say a staffer is either withholding necessities or failing all-together to acknowledge a resident’s needs. If neglected, a resident could be malnourished, dehydrated, unclean, or sickly. One of the most common cases of elder neglect involves bed sores (also referred to as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers). For more information on the problem of bed sores in American nursing homes, see this article. Often, neglect is directly related to understaffing in nursing homes.
Simply put, desertion is the abandonment of a resident for lengthy periods of time. This form of abuse involves many of the above mentioned forms of abuse; however, the isolation of a resident can have serious affects, both physically and psychologically.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused in any of the ways listed in this article you should investigate these concerns. If it seems likely that abuse is taking place, you should contact Adult Protective Services (APS) or Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA). These organizations will look into your claim. Additionally, you should remove your loved one from the nursing home and find an alternative facility or home to place him or her. Lastly, if your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, speak with Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.