What is Elder Abuse?
As our population continues to age, the number of senior citizens is growing. With age comes diminished physical and mental capacity. Unfortunately that leaves our elderly family or friends vulnerable to abuse of various kinds. This abuse can come from various sources including nonprofessional and professional care givers as well as from con artists and other unscrupulous people.
It is a national travesty that many elderly people are abused each year in the United States. The sad thing is that much of that abuse is committed by the very people who have committed to providing care for our senior citizens. There are over half a million reported cases of elder abuse reported each year. It is unknown how many cases of elder abuse go unreported, but it is estimated they number in the millions.
Elder abuse can take many different forms. It can be as small as yelling at or belittling an elderly person on up to actual assaults. It can also take the form of care provider neglect. There is also financial abuse in the form of theft or exploitation. Some of the most prevalent forms of abuse are:
1. Physical abuse
Physical abuse of an elderly person consists of unwanted touching that results in pain or injury. That can encompass hitting and shoving as well as inappropriate restraint and confinement.
2. Emotional abuse
Psychological or emotional abuse of an elderly person can involve speaking to or treating an elderly person in such a way as to cause emotional distress.
Verbal forms of emotional elder abuse may include:
- Yelling, blaming or threats
- belittling, ridiculing or humiliating the elderly person
Nonverbal emotional elder abuse may include:
- ignoring or ostracizing
- isolating the elder person from their family, friends or other activities
3. Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse of an elderly person is unwanted contact of a sexual nature. This can involve physical sex acts, but may also be such things as showing an elderly person pornographic material or forcing the person to watch other inappropriate things of a sexual nature. It can also involve forcing the elderly person to undress when they do not want to.
4. Abuse through neglect by caregivers
Elder abuse through neglect can occur when a professional of nonprofessional care giver failures or refuses provide an appropriate level of care for that elderly person’s situation. Over half of all cases of elder abuse reported each year involve some form of neglect by a caregiver. Abuse through neglect by a caregiver can be intentional or unintentional. Unintentional neglect, especially by a nonprofessional care giver is usually based on ignorance of what level of care is actually needed or denial that an elderly person needs that much care. While this type of abuse is usually the result of nonprofessional caregivers like family or friends, it can also be the result of professional care givers in an institutional facility like a nursing home.
5. Financial Abuse
Financial elder abuse is the unauthorized use of an elderly person’s funds or property, either by a caregiver, family member, friend or sometimes an actual con artist.
A caregiver, family member or friend could:
- Take money from an elderly person’s checking or savings account
- Use the elderly person’s credit cards for their own benefit without permission
- Actually steal money or social security checks
- Take household goods or other property from an elderly person’s home or room
- Coerce an elderly person to sign titles transferring real or personal property
- Identity theft to take out loans in the elderly person’s name
Typical scams that target elderly persons may include:
- Fraudulent “prize” scams that require the elderly person to pay money up front in order receive the “prize”
- Claiming to be a fraudulent charity in order to get the elderly person to donate money
- Fraudulent Investment scams that promise unrealistic returns on investment
- Home repair scams that take money up front and do not actually provide the repairs
6. Healthcare fraud and abuse
Healthcare fraud and abuse is usually the result of unethical doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, nursing home staff and other professional caregivers.
This type of elder abuse may include:
- Charging for services that have not actually been provided
- Providing substandard healthcare like allowing bedsores to develop without the proper care or treatment
- Overcharging for medical or caregiving services
- Overmedicating or under medicating
- Promoting fraudulent remedies for serious medical conditions
- Medicaid fraud
If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse you should discuss the situation with an experienced Colorado attorney. Our attorneys provide a free initial consultation to help you evaluate your situation. If you or a loved one was seriously injured due to the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of another, you may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills and emotional distress.