According to the National Council on Aging, approximately one in ten Americans over the age of 60 have experienced elder abuse. If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, this article will provide you with important information to help them.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse includes a wide range of abusive, exploitive, and negligent activity towards the elderly, including:
- Physical abuse: This includes any physical infliction of pain or injury, such as hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, or otherwise physically harming an elderly person. Family members or caregivers are often the perpetrators of physical abuse against the people they are supposed to be helping.
- Emotional abuse: Abuse does not always leave physical marks. Emotional abuse includes screaming, scaring, threatening, criticizing, intimidating, or harassing. This can be especially harmful activity when it’s used against elderly people who are suffering from dementia, as it may worsen their condition.
- Sexual abuse: Elderly people can be vulnerable to sexual predators, especially if they are physically disabled.
- Neglect: Failure to provide food, water, medication, clothing, shelter, or medical care to an elderly person is neglect. Negligence could also include isolating or ignoring an elderly person.
- Abandonment: If a family member or caregiver abandons an elderly person within their care, they are putting the elder’s life in grave danger. Abandonment can take the form of leaving a vulnerable person tied into a wheelchair and alone for hours or other situations where the elderly person is left alone for long periods of time.
- Financial exploitation: This could include misusing an elderly person’s funds, stealing from them, deceiving them, or scamming them. Financial exploitation can be committed by family members, caregivers, or complete strangers.
How to Protect Your Loved One from Elder Abuse
If you have an elderly person you watch out for or care for, you need to take action to protect them from elder abuse. Here are some key measures to take:
- Be present: First and foremost, be present in your loved one’s life. Talk to them frequently and visit them if possible. Get to know their caregivers, friends, and acquaintances. Your presence, or other trusted friends and family, may be enough to deter a predator from taking advantage of your loved one.
- Look for the signs: By being present, you can look for signs of abuse. For example, if you notice that your loved one is missing their prescriptions or skipping baths, they may be the victim of neglect. If your loved one appears afraid of their caregivers, they may be the victim of emotional abuse. If you see physical signs of abuse, contact law enforcement immediately.
- Monitor their accounts: Be cognizant of your elderly loved one’s financial situation, including their bank accounts, credit cards, and loans. If your loved one is unable to manage their finances on their own, speak with an Orange County elder law attorney about becoming a financial power of attorney on their behalf.
- Ask questions: If something doesn’t look right or seems unusual, step in and ask questions of your loved one, their caregivers, or the responsible authorities at the hospital or nursing home. Do not be afraid to stand up and advocate for your vulnerable loved one.
Contact an Orange County Elder Law Attorney
If you suspect that someone is abusing your loved one, contact the legal authorities and an Orange County elder law attorney immediately. The authorities can help you remove your loved one from the situation, and an experienced attorney can connect you with colleagues who can hold the guilty party accountable (such as elder abuse litigators). If you find yourself in this situation, our lawyers are here to offer guidance and support. Please do not hesitate to reach out if we can help your family in any way.
Contact us at (800) 244-8814 to schedule an appointment.