Elder abuse is a crime that can cause victims severe physical pain and emotional turmoil. Elder abuse and neglect can lead to serious personal injuries, declines in physical health, changes to mental health status and wrongful death. As the loved one of an elderly person in someone else’s care, such as a nursing home or caregiver in Omaha, pay attention to potential signs of elder abuse. Even if the caregiver is someone you trust, you cannot be too vigilant about preventing abuse.
Unusual or Unexplained Physical Injuries
Physical elder abuse can refer to acts of assault such as punching or kicking senior citizens. It can also refer to the improper use of restraints. The elderly are naturally more prone to injuries, which can make it difficult to spot physical abuse. It may not be out of the ordinary, for example, to hear your loved one fell and fractured his or her hip. If a physical injury comes with other signs of abuse, however, such as poor sanitation or behavioral changes, it could be a red flag.
- Strap marks
- Bite marks
- Slap marks
- Serious bruises
- Injuries to the torso or other covered areas
- Broken bones
Physical neglect is also a significant risk for seniors. Watch for signs of neglect when you visit your loved one, such as wounds that have not been cared for, unkempt appearance, dirty clothes, unchanged adult diapers, infections, dangerous premises or bedsores. Neglecting elder care can lead to a decrease in health and emotional wellness. Ask the nursing home about recent injuries. If the injuries do not appear to match the explanation or your loved one takes frequent trips to the hospital, it could be elder abuse. Get your loved one to a safe location and call the police.
Not all forms of elder abuse are physical. Someone could also abuse an elderly individual mentally, emotionally or psychologically. Someone in a position of power could berate, yell at, humiliate, threaten, intimidate or isolate a senior citizen to intentionally cause harm or emotional distress. A perpetrator can use psychological abuse alone or in conjunction with other forms of abuse. The signs of mental elder abuse may not be as easy to identify as physical abuse.
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Feelings of guilt, shame or fear
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety, especially around certain caregivers
- Withdrawal from favorite activities
- Social isolation
- Confusion or cognitive difficulties
- Anger or emotional outbursts
- Nightmares, PTSD or trouble sleeping
- Expressing the desire to leave the nursing home
Talk to your loved one regularly to get to know his or her typical moods, behaviors and actions. If you spot any changes without reason, investigate further for potential elder abuse. Someone could be taking advantage of your loved one or harassing him or her for personal gain. Detecting emotional abuse early could help your loved one avoid long-lasting psychological repercussions. If your loved one tries to talk to you about abuse, listen and explain that you believe him or her.
Another form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. Elder financial exploitation or abuse is the stealing of an elderly person’s money or assets, either through direct theft, manipulation, coercion, fraud or force. Financial abuse robs victims of millions of dollars each year. Someone trustworthy should be in charge of or at least supervise an elderly family member’s bank accounts, trusts and savings to help prevent abuse.
Keep an eye on your family member’s accounts and watch for unusual withdrawals, checks or bank activity. Warn your loved one not to believe the internet or phone scams and not to write blank checks to anyone. It is often up to family members to detect signs of elder abuse since victims rarely come forward on their own. If you notice signs of financial exploitation or another form of elder abuse, call your local adult protective services to report a possible crime. Then, speak to an Omaha elder abuse attorney about filing an elder abuse claim.
Posted in Elder Abuse on August 23, 2019
Elder abuse is a crime against one of the most vulnerable populations: the elderly. Elder abuse is a significant problem that often flies under the radar due to underreporting. In many cases, it is not the victim that comes forward, but a family member that notices signs of abuse and alerts an Omaha elder abuse attorney or law enforcement. Some estimates place the rate of elder abuse at 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 60, while others say up to 5 million elders face abuse each year. Most studies agree, however, that available statistics are likely low due to the number of cases that go unreported.
The four types of elder abuse are physical, emotional, financial and sexual. Many victims suffer multiple types of abuse simultaneously. A perpetrator may put an elder through physical abuse, for example, to execute a financial exploitation scheme. Noticing signs of physical abuse early could prevent serious injuries or permanent declines in mental status.
- Unexplained injuries
- Frequent visits to the hospital
- Bruises or slap marks
- Fall-related injuries
- An overall decline in health
Look for signs of physical abuse in places people do not usually see. People who commit elder abuse may try to get away with it by harming senior citizens in places that are not usually visible. Also look for physical signs of elder neglect, such as malnutrition, dehydration, poor sanitation, infections, and bedsores. Staying alert to the common signs of physical abuse could save a life. Police intervention could stop physical abuse before it permanently impacts the elderly victim’s life.
Emotional abuse can be more difficult to catch due to a lack of physical signs. Spending time with your elderly loved one could help you spot the subtler signs of emotional or mental abuse, such as changes in personality or loss of interest in social activities.
- Mood swings
- Shame or guilt
- Fear of certain people
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Ask your loved one about changes in his or her mood, behaviors, social life or mental wellness. If you see or hear anything that gives you cause for concern, ask the caregiver or nursing home about potential emotional or mental abuse.
Keep an eye on your elderly loved one’s finances to help prevent financial exploitation. Criminals and fraudsters often target the elderly for their vulnerability, high assets, and susceptibility to scams. Caregivers and close relatives are common perpetrators in elder financial abuse schemes.
- Unusual bank activity
- Forged or missing checks
- Checks made out to cash
- Last-minute will updates
- Plummeting bank account
- Lost high-value assets such as jewelry
- Generous gifts to acquaintances or strangers
- Poor financial decisions
Help a senior citizen in your life take care of tasks such as hiring contractors, finding honest financial advisors and handling bank accounts to help prevent financial abuse. Teach your loved one not to trust over-the-phone salespeople, callers who say they work for the IRS or emails about winning the lottery. Have your relative run financial decisions by you first to make sure no one is taking advantage of him or her.
A nursing home with negligent staff members and/or low security could present many opportunities for a crime such as sexual abuse. Ask your elderly loved one about sexual abuse. Take accusations seriously. If you notice potential signs of sexual abuse, involve the police to protect the elderly person.
- Genital injuries
- Bloody undergarments
- Bruising on the upper thighs
- Trouble walking or sitting
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Behavioral changes
Contact an Omaha Elder Abuse Lawyer
Abuse could occur in a nursing home setting or the perpetrator could be a close family friend or relative. The four types of abuse may not only show physical signs but also emotional. Your loved one could experience significant mental detriment because of the abuse. Report signs of any type of elder abuse to the long-term care facility and the police. Then, remove your loved one to a safe location while you contact an elder abuse attorney for assistance.