Elder Abuse Lawyer

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Elder abuse is a despicable issue, and it happens more than you might think. Each year, millions of people are the victims of elder abuse in the United States. For each case of elder abuse that is reported, estimates are that five times as many cases of abuse go unreported. Not only does elder abuse have serious immediate effects, but recent research purports that elderly individuals who have been subjected to abuse may die earlier than those who are not abused, regardless of whether or not they suffer from physical or mental health issues.

Elder abuse is considered to be any act by a caregiver or family member who intentionally, knowingly, or negligently causes an elderly adult harm, injury, or the risk of harm. When people think of elder abuse, they may commonly think that it is an act committed mostly in nursing homes. However, this belief is actually a misconception; most cases of elder abuse occur in the home. Abusers may be spouses, children, siblings, or other relatives. Abuse can happen to any elderly person, anywhere.

Also important is the fact that elderly abuse takes a number of forms. Physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation are among commonly noted forms of elder abuse. A brief explanation of each of these forms of abuse is listed below.

Physical – Includes the infliction, or threat to inflict, physical pain or harm on an elderly adult. This may include hitting, punching, grabbing, slapping, or the inappropriate use of restraints or drugs. Signs of physical abuse may be broken bones, lacerations, bruising, or other unexplained injuries.
Emotional/Psychological – Includes the infliction of mental pain, stress, or anguish through verbal or non-verbal actions. Examples of verbal abuse include intimidation through yelling or threats, humiliation, accusing, or blaming. Non-verbal emotional abuse may include ignoring an elder, isolating an elder from friends or social activities, or terrorizing an elderly adult. Signs that this abuse may be happening include withdrawal, unreasonable fear or suspicion, depression, or evasiveness.
Sexual – This may be sexual harassment or any sort of non-consensual sexual acts. Signs of sexual abuse include torn or bloody underwear, bleeding vaginal or anal regions, bruising of the breasts or genital regions, depression, or withdrawal.
Neglect – Includes the deprivation of basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, and protection. This may include lack of food or water, poor amenities, or lack of working assistive devices. Signs of neglect may be sores, weight loss, sunken eyes, or extreme thirst.
Exploitation – This encompasses the misuse or theft of funds, assets, or property. Examples include forging signatures, stealing money from bank accounts, identity theft, or theft of personal property.

Causes for elder abuse include family stress, the stress of taking care of an individual with significant needs, long-term domestic violence, as well as issues with dependency, and the characteristics of an elder, such as physical or mental impairments. There are not really any patterns that exist in relation to elder abuse, either in the home or in long-term care facilities.

It is important to educate oneself about the types of elder abuse and signs that it might be occurring in order to prevent it or cease it from continuing.

Where can you turn?
In the event that you suspect a loved one or someone you know is the victim of elder abuse, there are a number of resources you can turn to. You may address the issue with the person or facility whom you suspect is responsible for the abuse, public agencies, or legal professionals.

If you suspect elder abuse, it is suggested that you contact a legal professional. A lawyer will guide you through the process of selecting a channel to resolve the issue, as well as help determine what course of action should be taken. Many lawyers specialize in cases of elder abuse or nursing home abuse. Experts can help you ensure that the abuse ceases and nobody is harmed in the future by the abuser.

Elder abuse is an issue that should not be taken lightly. Educate yourself and your loved ones to help prevent it from occurring.

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