The U.S. has reached a new milestone – a population of over 50 million seniors for the first time in the history of the USA in 2016. Since such a dramatic increase in the senior population is expected, it is important that the rising issues of elder abuse and nursing home abuse be addressed as soon as possible.
According to the National Council of Aging, “Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.”
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is the physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse or neglect of a senior citizen. The elderly are an at-risk population because they often have physical or mental limitations that make them dependent on others for their care, which can leave them open to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous caregivers.
There are several ways elder abuse may manifest itself at a nursing home. Physical abuse includes both violent assaults and more subtle neglect, such as allowing bedsores or failing to bathe or properly feed a resident. Emotional abuse occurs when elders are isolated from their families, are treated like children, or are verbally harassed.
Financial abuse is the most common type of elder abuse. Examples of financial abuse include theft of cash money or property, deceiving or forcing a resident to make a financial decision or the mismanagement of a senior’s finances by his or her power of attorney or guardian.
Preventing Elder Abuse
Greater awareness of the problem of elder abuse has prompted the opening of six elder abuse shelters across the country. These facilities offer nursing home care to victims of elder abuse.
Fortunately, there are ways that elder abuse can be prevented. Improved work conditions and better education for caregivers, communication between nursing facilities and law enforcement and better hiring procedures can help reduce instances of elder abuse.
Public education is also important. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam have elder abuse hotlines and prevention resources available to the elderly, their families and nursing home employees that witness elder abuse.
If you suspect a loved one has fallen victim to elder abuse, it is possible to recover damages through the court system, including money for medical costs and pain and suffering. The most important step to take is to consult with an experienced Austin attorney at Briggle & Polan, PLLC, who can help your family understand the litigation process.