Abuse of the Elderly is Tragic, But Common, Occurrence

As the general population of the United States ages, the demands placed on our medical system to care for our elderly loved ones have grown considerably. At the current time in this country, there are approximately 34 million people over the age of 65, and nearly one in twenty of those elderly Americans will eventually require some form of assisted living.

Nursing home negligence and abuse as the cause of personal injury and wrongful death among senior citizens has become a growing concern to those elderly Americans and their families who are dependent on extended health care institutions for their care.

Because these numbers are so high, our senior citizens are much too frequently becoming the victims of intentional abuse and neglect in our nursing homes and assisted living facilities, especially when those places are understaffed or poorly staff with uncaring, untrained healthcare professionals.

Many Types of Abuse

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elder abuse is the term used to refer to any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm to a vulnerable adult.

Abuse of an elderly person’s finances is one of the most common forms of elder abuse that is described in detail below; however, there are many other kinds including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and abandonment.

General neglect of senior citizens is the most prevalent type of abuse. Neglect is the result of a lack of interest in the well being of a senior citizen. While physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are usually intentional and purposeful, neglect may occur when a caregiver simply does not care about their elderly patient. Caregivers are being neglectful when they fail to provide some necessary element for the resident’s survival. Some egregious forms of neglect may be failure to provide food or water or failure to pay the elderly person’s utilities, depriving them of heat and electricity.

Sadly, sexual abuse is not unheard of in nursing and assisted living homes. Some of the most common forms of sexual abuse are vaginal and anal intercourse without consent, forced nudity, and inappropriate photography.

Mental abuse may not be as visible as physical abuse or neglect but it can be just as debilitating. Mental abuse can include, but is not limited to, verbal harassment, intimidation, isolating the elderly patient, and insulting or ignoring the patient.

Signs of physical abuse are numerous and include bruises, broken bones, burns, unkempt appearance, scratches, broken eyeglasses, torn clothing, etc.

Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is the most common type of abuse found in older adults and is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. Checks may be cashed that belong to the elder adult, signatures may be forged, and possessions may be stolen.

Signs of financial exploitation:

· Sudden changes in financial situation
· Additional names found on the elder’s accounts
· Unauthorized withdrawals of money
· Disappearance of possessions
· Unexplained transfers of funds
· Evidence of forged signatures
Predatory individuals who seek out vulnerable seniors with the intent of exploiting them may:
· Profess to love the older person (“sweetheart scams”)
· Seek employment as personal care attendants, counselors, etc. to gain access
· Identify vulnerable persons by driving through neighborhoods (to find persons who are alone and isolated) or contact recently widowed persons they find through newspaper death announcements
· Move from community to community to avoid being apprehended (transient criminals)
Unscrupulous professionals or businesspersons or persons posing as such may:
· Overcharge for services or products
· Use deceptive or unfair business practices
· Use their positions of trust or respect to gain compliance
Who is at risk?
The following conditions or factors increase an older person’s risk of being victimized:
· Isolation
· Loneliness
· Recent losses
· Physical or mental disabilities
· Lack of familiarity with financial matters
· Have family members who are unemployed and/or have substance abusers problems
If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home or elsewhere, you should document your observations and take immediate steps to secure your loved one’s safety.

An experienced nursing home neglect/abuse lawyer can investigate your situation and advise you on what your next steps should be. Please visit the website Connecticut’s Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys at Trantolo & Trantolo LLC today to learn more about how our elderly are victimized every day by people they’ve trusted.

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2 Responses

  1. My name is Dvaid Kessler and I am a national trainer/speaker on the topic of exploitation of the elderly.

    Please visit my web site at:

    http://www.ProtectingTheElderly.com

    This was an exellent article on this topic. If I can ever assist please contact me via my web site.

    Thank you,

    Dave

  2. My mother died 10/2009 and my step father is suffering from alzheimer and severe dementia. I was taking care of both parents for over 5years. I had power of attorney over my mom and stepdad . I took care of all their finances as well as health issues. My parents had A1 credit. My stepfather had a relative that showed up out of nowhere. All of a sudden with in two days of my mother’s death their life insurance policy came up missing as well as half million dollars CD’s were closed up and transfered into another account. As well as all money coorespondent were sent to the relative PO BX. I have documents from the court as well as from my step dad primary physician that he is incompetent to make any decisions.The bank called me and told me a strange woman was with my stepfather and he closed out him and my mother accts. She also put a block on the phone. found out later through my mother’s attorney that my name was taken off of everything. And that his cousin name was on everything. The last time I talk to my stepfather he was drunk. That worry me because he is on a blood thinning meds because he has had 3 strokes. He told me that his cousin let him drink . My stepfather had not had alcohol in over 7years. Since December of last year was the last time I talk to him and now he is in a coma? My attorney filed a complaint and we went to court. The out come was they stripped his cousin of power of attorney over him and elected an
    guardian over him. But what she did was got her sister to file guardianship over him. I am a only child and this is devastating too me. I really need advice on what to do. I truly believe she has harmed my stepfather in order to get her hands on all their money.
    I found out today that his cousin is beneficery on both life insurance policy and they paid off my mother policy and sent the check to his cousin’s PO BX. My stepfather was not in any physical shape to make any decisions on his own. Matter of fact he forgot that my mother had passed and he was basically had a mind of a 3year kid. He could not remember anything except the fact that he wanted my mother to hurry home to take care of him, because there was a strange woman (his cousin) in his house. HSBC credit called and notified me because they notice some outstanding charges on the acct. Because as I said previously I took care of everything. She abused their credit. It was too late for me to do anything they closed up the acct, and the fact that I was no longer was power of attorney over their finances. I need some advice. Also I found out that his cousin went to my stepfather primary care physician to get a letter stating that he was not incompetent. His physician refuse to reverse his decision. What happen next a few days later my step father was in the hospital fighting for his life. His cousin put a block at the hospital to keep me and other relatives to visit. I found out by my attorney when he filed a grevience against the estate.

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