Elder abuse is an issue of growing concern across the country. While elder abuse is not a new phenomenon, the issue is finally getting the much-needed attention it deserves. Elderly people are some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and it is up to all of us to protect them and watch out for possible abuse. If you suspect your elderly neighbor, relative, or friend may be subjected to elder abuse, your experienced elder abuse attorneys may be able to help.
There are many forms of elder abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or psychological abuse. The failure to properly care for an elderly person or neglect their care can also be elder abuse. However, not all forms of abuse lead to physical harm. Financial exploitation and abuse is another common problem.
Just about anyone can be involved in abuse against an elderly person. This includes individuals who are paid to care for an elderly person, like nurses, nursing home attendants, doctors, housekeepers, or home care workers. Financial exploitation could also come from financial advisors or whoever holds a power of attorney. Even those closest to the elderly individual can be abusers, including friends, children, relatives, or spouses.
Every year, elder abuse affects approximately 5 million people in the U.S. However, one of the greatest problems involving elder abuse is that it is so rarely reported. Fewer than 1-in-20 cases are reported to authorities. As the population continues to get older and live longer, elder abuse is expected to grow.
Elder abuse in Philadelphia can be treated as a criminal violation and a civil cause of action. Elder abuse can be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging through a 24-hour hotline. Reports can be made on behalf of another person, and reporters may remain anonymous. Elders can also seek protection from their abusers through filing a Protection From Abuse Order.
Under the Older Adults Protective Services Act (OAPSA), certain individuals are actually required to report suspected abuse. This includes any employee or administrator of a facility, including long-term care facilities, hospices, assisted living residences, mental hospitals, or DPW nursing facilities. There may be additional reporting requirements to inform law enforcement if the suspected abuse involves serious physical injury, serious bodily injury, sexual abuse, or a suspicious death.
Abuse in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes and other elder care facilities may have employees or other residents who are abusing elderly residents. When visits by family members or friends are rare, residents are left at the hands of employees and other residents. Elderly residents with diminished mental capacity or limited physical ability may be more vulnerable to abuse.
Abuse in a nursing home may go unreported by the victims because they are not able to communicate their abuse. Additionally, many may be fearful of reporting the abuse because the abuser has threatened them or they fear retaliation.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse often goes unreported because friends and family members do not know what to look for. Some of the signs of elder abuse may be confused by some family members as signs of illness or aging. Other fail to report suspected abuse because they only have a suspicion. Without proof or evidence to confirm their suspicion, they may be hesitant to report possible abuse to authorities.
There are many signs of possible abuse. This includes physical injuries such as bruises, or broken bones. In sexual abuse, bruising or injuries may occur around the breast or groin area. Signs of neglect may include bedsores, malnutrition, unexplained weight loss, dehydration, and dirty or unsanitary conditions. Emotional changes may also indicate signs of abuse, including increased confusion, depression, sudden changes in mental state or alertness, unusual withdrawal, or frequent fights.
Financial exploitation or abuse may involve sudden changes in spending habits, giving away a lot of property or money to a caregiver who has control of their finances, or a sudden increase in living expenses. Increased banking transactions or changes to a will or estate plan could also indicate possible financial abuse.
Philadelphia Elder Abuse Attorneys
If you suspect an elderly parent or family member may be suffering abuse in Philadelphia, you may not know where to turn for help. The caretakers or nursing home may or may not be aware of the abuse, or they could retaliate against the victim. Your elderly loved ones need an advocate to fight for them and make sure they get the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering. If you or someone you love has been injured through elder abuse, please contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.