The Effects of Elder Neglect
Elder neglect is a serious public health concern that’s more common than you might think. In fact, at least 10% of Americans over the age of 60 will experience some form of elder abuse each year. The majority of these individuals reside in institutional settings like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. to illustrate, here’s what you can do to protect your elderly loved one.
What Is Elder Neglect?
Elder abuse occurs when an older adult is significantly hurt through the intentional actions of another. This includes harm that results from the negligence of a care taker responsible for an elderly person. As older adults age, they become more vulnerable to abuse. Mental and physical ailments can make them an easy target for abusers. They may not be able to defend themselves properly. Most importantly, you need to carefully monitor the health and well-being of elderly family members.
How Elder Neglect Affect Older Adults
There are many ways that an elderly individual can incur abuse. Some of these are more obvious, like physical abuse, but some may be harder for you to detect. Below, we will explore the different types of abuse and the effects they have on the elderly population.
Physical Abuse and Neglect
A senior who has been physically abused or neglected can experience a range of injuries, from minor bruises to serious fractures. Sometimes, these injuries cause permanent damage that permanently disables the individual, or the injuries are so severe that they even result in the death of the victim. However, keep in mind that not all physical abuse is this extreme. There can be more subtle signs that you should watch out for that indicate your loved one may be a victim of abuse or neglect. These include:
Bruises, abrasions, and cuts
If your family member regularly experiences injuries, it could be a sign that someone is hurting them. Bumps, bruises, and fractures can also happen if care takers neglect elderly for long periods of time. This can be extremely dangerous for older adults with limited mobility. They are more likely to experience broken bones, head injuries, and even death by attempting to care for themselves. You should contact your local Adult Protective Services agency if you notice your loved one is frequently injured while under the care of another.
Caregivers are responsible for ensuring that each patient’s basic personal hygiene needs are met. For example, bathing them, brushing their hair and teeth, taking them to the bathroom, and changing their clothes regularly. If your loved one looks dirty or disheveled every time you visit them, it’s important to speak to an administrator about their personal care plan.
Caregivers may ignore individual dietary needs, putting many older adults at risk of malnutrition. Consequently, not eating properly can lead to a host of problems, including weight loss, decreased bone mass, a weakened immune system, and even death. You should be concerned if you notice a drastic change in your loved one’s health or eating habits.
Elderly have a limit on their mobility. For instance, putting too much pressure on the same area of the body for too long can result in bedsores. These are dangerous skin ulcers that can lead to fatal infections. To avoid these ulcers, elderly individuals who are confined to their beds should have their positions changed frequently. If your loved one is constantly developing bedsores, it could be a sign that their caregiver isn’t giving them the attention they need.
A consistent medication schedule is very important for seniors and neglecting them will only hurt their health. This can lead to the worsening of existing health issues and even death. If your loved one can’t tell you which medications they take or can’t remember the last time they took them, you should alert the facility administrator right away.
Emotional abuse can have a devastating effect on an older adult. Abusers may threaten, humiliate, or manipulate them, or they may refuse care to make the seniors do something they don’t want to do. The fear of retaliation can make the senior hesitant to report the abuse, so it can occur over a long period of time before someone notices. By this point, the victim may undergo depression, act withdrawn, or overly aggressive. They may feel worthless, isolate themselves, and show little interest in usual activities and hobbies. If you notice a sudden decline in your loved one’s mood, be sure to bring it up to the facility manager.
Financial abuse is common among the elderly population. Caregivers, close friends, or even their family members are commonly known to financially manipulate them. Abusers may repeatedly ask for large sums of money, try to involve seniors in get-rich-quick schemes, or outright steal money and property from the individual. This can seriously compromise a senior’s financial security. They may be unable to pay for necessities like housing, food, and utilities. If they fell victim to a scam, they may exhibit feelings of shame and anger.
Establishing a financial power of attorney can help protect your loved one from financial abuse. They will be able to designate a trusted individual to manage their finances on their behalf. A power of attorney is especially a good choice for older adults who live in community settings and want to limit access to their funds.
Need a Bakersfield Elder Abuse Lawyer?
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we understand the destructive effects that elder neglect can have on an older adult. If you believe your loved one is a victim of abuse, we want to help you in any way we can. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced elder abuse lawyer to review the details of your case. Contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer for your case.