As the population of older Americans (defined as age 65 and older) continues to increase, issues that affect and impact them have increased in importance as well. Sadly, at the top of that list is the risk every senior faces of becoming the victim of elder abuse. Elder abuse takes many forms, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as well as neglect and financial exploitation. If you are concerned about an elderly loved one, the elder law lawyers at Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia urge you to watch for the top 10 signs that your loved one may be in trouble.
The Elder Abuse Epidemic in the U.S.
Abuse of the elderly is not a new phenomenon; however, in recent years the number of elder abuse reports has increased dramatically. Making matters worse is the fact that experts believe the number of reported cases of elder abuse is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Consider the following facts and figures:
- Experts believe more than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reports, as many as 14 go unreported.
- 1 in 20 older adults indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past
- Only 30% of victims of elder sexual abuse report it to authorities
- In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients;
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
- According to Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs in 2003, there were more than 20 thousand complaints of exploitation, neglect, and abuse coming from nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The most common type of abuse reported was physical abuse.
- The most recent studies indicate that 7-10 percent of the elderly suffered from at least one episode of abuse within the past year.
Signs That May Indicate Abuse
One of the biggest obstacles to preventing, or stopping, elder abuse is that victims frequently do not report the abuse. Sometimes they keep quiet because they are embarrassed to be the victim of abuse. Other times they are scared to report the abuse because they are dependent on the perpetrator of the abuse. This reluctance to report makes it even more important for loved ones to be vigilant about looking for signs of abuse, including:
- Bruising, particularly around wrists and/or ankles, that may indicate the use of restraints.
- Unexplained mood swings.
- Unpaid bills, utilities being disconnected, or unexplained withdrawals from a bank account.
- Unexplained STDs or infections.
- Sudden and unexplained increase in injuries from “accidents.”
- Excessive agitation or outright fear when around a certain caregiver.
- Weight loss or a refusal to eat with no apparent explanation.
- A sudden change in estate planning, such as executing a new Will without explanation.
- Depression, withdrawal, or anger.
- Attempts to isolate the individual from family and loved ones.
Each of these signs may indicate that a loved one is a victim of some type of elder abuse. If you are concerned about an elderly loved one, try to talk to your loved one about your suspicions. If they are confirmed and/or you remain concerned, contact an elder law attorney right away to discuss your legal options.
Contact Elder Law Lawyers
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you are concerned that a loved one is the victim of elder abuse, in any form, contact the New York elder law attorneys at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.