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.