Why is Elder Abuse So Common?
Written by Cooper & Friedman on February 14, 2020
According to NCOA, one in 10 Americans has experienced elder abuse. This means millions of individuals over the age of sixty have faced this injustice. Only a small number of these cases are reported to authorities.
As personal injury attorneys with decades of experience practicing in the State of Kentucky and in Southern Indiana, we’ve seen many surprising examples of elder abuse. Follow along for several common reasons why elder abuse is prevalent:
1. They’re Uniquely Vulnerable
Elderly adults are uniquely vulnerable to all forms of abuse ranging from medical malpractice to financial fraud. They are often physically and mentally compromised, which makes it easier for people to take advantage of them. Many elderly individuals suffer abuse silently instead of sharing their experiences with concerned loved ones. Some are unable to voice issues, and the abuse goes unnoticed until people see physical signs of it.
2. Caregiver Stress is a Contributing Factor
Caregiver stress is a major contributing factor towards elder abuse, especially if caregivers are family members juggling several responsibilities at ones. Even the most reasonable and loving caregivers can behave in unusual ways under the pressure of chronic stress, which puts elderly patients in a very vulnerable position. Caregivers need to find ways to manage their stress and identify when they’re crumbling under pressure. If it gets too much, they must separate themselves from the older person before they cause harm. Unfortunately, many caregivers don’t do this or don’t have the resources to do it.
3. Financial Assets Make a Tempting Target
Many elderly individuals have financial assets like homes, retirement funds, savings, or even valuable possessions. Fraudsters consider them a tempting target because most elderly people welcome companionship, while often needing financial advice and asset management assistance. Fraudsters may offer any and all of these services, earning an elderly individual’s trust, before robbing them, which is one of the most common forms of elder abuse.
4. Nursing Homes are Understaffed
Nursing homes are designed to provide a comfortable environment for the elderly. They’re staffed with trained professionals who can handle all of a patient’s personal, medical, and social needs. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed, so a single caregiver has to take care of several patients at the same time. This can lead to elder neglect because caregivers don’t have the time or energy to provide comprehensive care. The only solution is to hire more staff and train them well.
5. Nursing Staff are Underpaid
Nursing is a challenging job that requires a lot of physical and emotional labor. Caregivers need to help patients with everyday physical activities while offering consistent emotional support. The last thing they need is financial worry to add to their stress. Unfortunately, many in nursing are underpaid, and some even work multiple jobs to make ends meet. This can lead to stress, frustration, and anger, which they may direct towards vulnerable elderly patients.
6. Considered a Burden
Elderly individuals are often considered a financial and emotional burden. Many families don’t consider them contributing or productive members, which can change their behavior towards the elderly. Senior family members often suffer from mental or even physical abuse from their loved ones. This is a common form of elder abuse, and it usually goes unreported because most elders don’t want to get their own family in trouble. Some senior citizens don’t have the financial resources or independence to get away from such environments, so they are forced to suffer unless someone else intervenes.
Adverse family relationships are also a contributing factor. For example, elderly parents with a history of mental or physical abuse may end up in the care of their victims, which places them in a vulnerable position as well. All of these factors (and more) can lead to elder abuse.
If you or someone you love is currently a victim of elder abuse in the State of Kentucky or in Southern Indiana, get experienced legal help. Contact the Cooper & Friedman law firm at 502-459-7555 for a free case consultation.