June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an event created by the United Nations to draw attention to the millions of older adults who are abused, neglected, and financially exploited each year. Elder neglect has largely been a hidden, private matter for decades. Fortunately, public awareness has increased in recent years as research efforts and state laws recognize the offenses against older adults.
Is your parent, grandparent, or another senior family member among the one in six elders who experienced abuse in the last year? The abuse could come from nursing home staff, a fellow resident, or even another family member. Recognize the warning signs of abuse and neglect among elders so you what to watch for.
- Changes in your loved one’s behavior: Has your family member stopped participating in activities they love or become agitated and withdrawn? Have they started neglecting their bills or showing signs of dementia? These sudden behavioral changes are a clear sign of trauma resulting from abuse.
- Changes in a caregiver’s behavior: Watch for any changes toward yourself or your family member, such as being controlling, belittling, intimidating, or refusing to let you see your loved one alone.
- Physical indications: Some signs of physical abuse are obvious, such as unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, and broken bones. You may also notice less apparent signs of mental or emotional distress stemming from abuse, including poor hygiene, unusual weight loss, or untreated medical conditions.
- Financial warning signs: Abusers often target an elder’s finances. Signs can range from missing personal belongings and strange bank account transactions to unusual spending habits and suspicious changes to wills and insurance policies.
- Changes in medical care: You may notice inadequate care or missing medical devices and prescriptions. Your loved one may refuse treatment for an undisclosed reason or mention a new medication you weren’t aware of. These are all signs of medical neglect or fraud.
- Concerns with the care facility: Assess your loved one’s living conditions. Are they safe and sanitary, or have heating and cooling issues, faulty electrical wiring, and mold problems gone unattended for too long? Listen to your gut. If you don’t like the staff’s response to your concerns, don’t ignore it.
- Unreasonable demands from the care facility: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new level of social isolation for the elderly. While nursing homes have a right to restrict visitation, they cannot demand a negative test result or wrongfully evict their residents.
If you think any of these signs of elder abuse apply to your loved one, try speaking to them alone. Express your concerns, listen for further signs of trouble in their response, and assure them you’ll get help.
Then, contact Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC to speak with a nursing home abuse attorney. We have 65 years of combined experience defending clients against the heinous crime of elder abuse. Call us at 862-263-0770 today to schedule your free, one-hour consultation. A Spanish translator is available upon request.