Types of Elder Abuse
Written by Cooper & Friedman on July 8, 2015
Elder abuse is becoming an increasingly significant issue in the United States, and all over the world. And with a demographic shift towards population aging and a baby boom generation, some 40 million strong, it’s likely this issue will only increase in importance.
As people age, they often start to become increasingly dependent again. Physical challenges paired with changing social circumstances (e.g. increased social isolation, possible communication difficulties, etc.) can make elders increasingly vulnerable to abuse.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, an estimated 1 to 2 million Americans over 65 years of age have been abused or mistreated in some way by a caregiver. Perhaps surprisingly, an estimated 90% of those seniors suffering from abuse are being hurt by a child, spouse, sibling, or some other family member. Other seniors may be abused by paid caregivers, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers.
Elder Abuse – 3 Common Types
Most of the time when we think about elder abuse, physical maltreatment and pain comes to mind. While this represents a large area of concern for elder abuse cases, it’s not the only type of elder abuse. Elder abuse is a term used to capture several different kinds of abuse. Here are three common types of elder abuse:
1. Physical Abuse – Many elder abuse cases involve physical force or violence that may result in visible signs of injury, pain or damage. Those being physically abused will often show physical indicators like burns, sprains and bruises. Along with physical symptoms, abused elders may also exhibit behavioral responses like detachment, fear or depression.
2. Emotional – Often less obvious than physical abuse, emotional abuse can be every bit as damaging. This includes talking to an elder in a way that causes embarrassment, humiliation, pain, harassment and ultimately distress. It may also include neglect. Emotional abuse can become so damaging that the elder may experience physical pain and become shut-off to the outside world.
3. Exploitation – This type of abuse often deals with financial or material exploitation including misusing an elder’s resources, property or assets. These cases often involve cashing checks without authorization, forging signatures, or coercing an elder to sign documents. This also involves matters of the will and the power of an attorney. Exploitation can be very damaging for the elder’s personal rights and finances. Sometimes a person’s care can even be in jeopardy because they have run out of funds to pay for treatment or personal care.
All of the types of elder abuse described above can happen in hospitals, nursing homes, or in individual’s homes. Being aware of the risk of elder abuse is important since it can sometimes be very difficult to detect. In fact, according to the National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, for every one case of elder abuse that is actually reported to authorities, an estimated 5 cases go unreported. And for certain types of abuse, the rate of reporting is even lower. For example, John F. Wasik reports in Consumer Digest 2000 that only 1 in 25 cases of financial exploitation is actually reported.
Elder Abuse Attorneys in Kentucky and Indiana
If you are an elder abuse victim or you believe a senior you love is being abused in some way, it is important to seek help. To report elder abuse, you can contact Adult Protective Services in the state where the elder resides. In Kentucky, you can report abuse by calling toll-free 1-800- 752-6200 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s also important to know that some attorneys like Cooper and Friedman Attorneys at Law concentrates on elder abuse cases. Working with a law firm that has in-depth knowledge of the risks and damages of this type of abuse is an important part of making sure your rights are protected.
Civil rights leader Mahatma Ghandi once said “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Being aware of the risks of elder abuse, and taking action if you ever suspect this type of abuse, is an extremely important part of reducing the number of elder abuse cases that go unreported every year.