June 15 marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day promoting an understanding of neglect and abuse that some of the most vulnerable citizens of the world suffer from daily. Sadly, five million elders in the U.S. are victims of abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation each year—and this number includes only those reported. The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) outlines the following forms of elder abuse, defined as any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
- Psychological abuse
- Financial abuse
The following information includes actions you can take to help prevent and combat elder abuse in your own community:
1. Look for unusual behavior from caregivers
Dominating behavior, refusal to let others into the room or home, or lack of attention toward the person requiring care are signs something could be wrong. Be weary when the patient is reluctant to answer questions about his or her treatment from a caregiver, and be aware of changes in the patient’s personality such as nervousness or elevated levels of confusion.
2. Recognize signs of elder abuse.
Soiled clothing, malnutrition or dehydration, bruises, and bedsores are all signs the patient may be physically abused or neglected. Look for unexplained injuries or signs of physical harm.
3. Keep an eye on finances.
As previously mentioned, abuse can come in many forms. Financial abuse is one of those. Unusual spending patterns, unpaid bills, and withdrawals that cannot be accounted for are red flags that someone may be taking advantage of an older person’s finances.
4. Thoroughly research nursing homes.
Before choosing a nursing home, determine what is important to you and your loved, and visit several establishments before making a decision. Ask about an individual care plan, staff qualifications, resident policies and safety measures. Never be afraid to ask questions. The care of your loved one is of the utmost importance. Medicare.gov has a thorough checklist that can help you begin determining which factors are important.
When we entrust others with the care of our loved ones, we expect the highest possible standard of care. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. We all must be advocates for the elders in our community. If you believe an elder you love has been neglected or abused at the hands of a caregiver, contact The Ruth Law Team. We have investigated hundreds of nursing home abuse cases over the years in a fight to Get Justice to those who need it most. You can reach us 24/7 at 1-888-783-8378, and your call is always free and confidential.
9-1-1: If someone you know is in grave, immediate danger.
1-800-677-1116: Eldercare Locator. You do not need to prove elder abuse upon reporting your suspicions. Professionals will investigate your claim.