Within the United States, one out of ten Americans over the age of 60 years old suffer from elder abuse.
Unfortunately, many of these people suffer in silence. All too often their loved ones are unaware of the problem and don’t know what to look for in recognizing the signs of elder abuse.
If you have a loved one who receives in-home care services or lives in an assisted living facility, you should be extra vigilant of potential elder abuse.
Once you realize there is a problem, you can reach out to the necessary authorities. Then, you can hire a trustworthy, reliable in-home care provider to serve your loved one with care and compassion.
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse typically involves situations of neglect or mistreatment. Loved ones may notice pressure marks, abrasions, broken bones, burns, or bruises.
While some injuries are normal due to the tender skin seniors often have, an abusive care provider will rarely have satisfactory explanations for how an injury happened.
When elder abuse is physical, it can involve sexual abuse, physical restraint, physical pain, or injuries. The abusive person may use chemical or physical restraints as a way to punish the individual.
As a result of physical abuse, the victim may suffer from malnutrition, unexplained weight loss, or dehydration.
Sometimes, the elder will develop bruises in the shape of fingerprints or thumbprints. Often, there will be old and new bruises in the same location because this is where repeated striking or injuries occur.
Unfortunately, there are many forms of physical abuse you may see. Cigarette burns, sprains, scratches, and hypothermia are all possible effects. Loved ones may even notice fractures, choke marks, and rope burns in more serious cases.
2. Verbal Abuse & Emotional Abuse
While verbal abuse is an extremely common type of elder abuse, it can be difficult to catch.
This kind of abuse involves any kind of improper behavior around language. This may be profanity, expletives, and abusive words in verbal or written form.
Other than expletives, someone can be verbally abusive if they use phrases, words, or actions to make the resident feel unimportant or intimidated. They may make unkind comments about the individual’s race, appearance, or ethnicity.
Unless you catch the verbal abuse as it happens, it can be challenging to discover the problem. Often, the first indications show up as changes in the resident’s behavior. Their personality or behavior may suddenly develop:
- Anger and defensiveness
- Feelings of depression and helplessness
- Social withdrawal
- Hesitation to talk openly
- Becoming non-responsive, confused or disoriented
- Fear and agitation
3. Financial Abuse
Not all abuse is blatantly physical or emotional abuse.
Financial abuse occurs when older adults are manipulated into giving away cash, assets and valuables without really knowing they’re being taken advantage of. This can be from loved ones, friends, caretakers, nursing home employees and anyone else with close constant communication with the senior.
The victim can be completely happy and comfortable, without knowing that their bank account is being drained and valuables are being stolen from right under their noses.
If you have a loved one who you believe is being taken advantage of financially, try to get of their bank statements (with their permission, of course) and give them a close look over. If you notice any suspicious activity, ask your loved one and / or the bank what information they can provide and contact the police immediately.
4. Fall Incidents
Another common type of elder abuse includes incidents of falling due to a lack of proper precautions. When someone falls down, they can develop serious injuries like hip fractures and broken bones.
Nursing homes and care providers have a duty to prevent falls by supervising residents and providing assistive devices as needed. They also must keep the environment free of potential tripping hazards.
If there is a problem, the provider must take steps to improve the senior’s safety.
5. Lack of Proper Care
Sometimes, the problem isn’t deliberate harm or abuse, but neglect can often cause just as much damage as physical abuse.
Lack of proper care can involve a lack of basic necessities like medications, food, shelter, water, or warmth.
If a care provider can’t meet their basic needs, it is considered senior abuse. By failing to provide things like supervision, clothing, or food, the provider is legally abusing the elder under the California Penal Code 368 PC.
Loved ones may notice mental and emotional signs of improper care because the elder may become withdrawn or depressed.
Bedsores are arguably the most common effect of senior neglect.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 11 percent of nursing home residents have bedsores at one point or another. Among these bedsore sufferers, the most common form of pressure ulcers was stage 2.
Bedsores are a kind of lesion where the skin breaks down because of a lack of proper care. While age, medications, temperature, and friction affect these sores, a lack of proper nourishment, unrelieved pressure, and a lack of hydration can also make them worse.
With proper care and an apt amount of movement, this condition is completely preventable.
Once the condition develops, it is easily treated when it is caught early. Unfortunately, bedsores can also be fatal to older persons if they aren’t caught and treated early.
In order to relieve bedsores, the care provider only has to turn or rotate the bedridden individual on a frequent basis. Pressure-relieving mattresses can also prevent existing bedsores from worsening.
If the individual develops complications or infections from bedsores, it is a sign the facility has breached its duty of care.
How to Report Elder Abuse in California
If you believe your loved one is suffering from elder abuse and neglect, you need to get help right away. By finding out how to report elder abuse in California, you can prevent major harm from happening to your loved one or future patients.
For immediate emergencies, call 911 right away. If your loved one is in danger, you need medical help as soon as possible.
For cases of suspected abuse or negligence, you can get help from the authorities. Each county has an Adult Protective Services (APS) office available to help with cases of suspected elder abuse.
Your county’s office can investigate your concerns and take appropriate steps to fix the problem.
Choose an In-Home Care Provider You Can Trust
Spotting signs of elder abuse isn’t always easy. But once you learn to recognize the signs and know how to report elder abuse in California, you can get help for your loved one.
This mistreatment is unlawful, so governmental organizations are available to investigate, prevent, and stop abuse cases.
If your loved one has previously suffered from abuse, it’s time to find a trustworthy in-home care company.