Elder abuse is typically associated with care in nursing homes and other residential settings. However, the elderly are often abused and neglected outside of institutions; in fact, most incidents of elder abuse take place at home. The great majority of older people live on their own, with spouses, children, siblings or other relatives. Whether caregivers are family members or paid aides, unfortunately, elder abuse is shockingly common in our society. Your Denver Personal Injury Attorney reports that an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological or other forms of abuse and neglect. For every case that is reported, an estimated 5 cases go unreported.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”) reached the following conclusions with respect to the forms of elder abuse and neglect by caregivers and aides in the home: (1) the elderly are not being given adequate support to eat or drink–especially those with dementia; (2) home caregivers are not carrying out vital tasks such as washing and dressing the elderly they care for because of lack of time; (3) aides tend to talk over and not to older people, so they are not being engaged enough; (4) caregivers who have access to their elderly patient’s financial information exploit it, by using credit and debit cards, bank accounts, and even going as far as identity theft through use of social security numbers; and (5) physical abuse such as rough handling or unnecessary force. Many times the elderly do not complain about their treatment because they fear retaliation (more abuse and neglect) by the caregivers, or they are afraid that they will be placed in a residential setting, such as a nursing home.
Abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers who are family members is often much more difficult to discern. Emotional abuse can range from giving the elder “the silent treatment” to yelling at them, threatening them, patronizing them, or even isolating them from social contact or activities. Neglect can be ignoring basic–but vital needs–such as helping the older person with bathing, toiletry needs, washing sheets and clothing, cleaning dishes and other household items. Even physical abuse can take subtle forms: over and under-medicating the elderly, deprivation of food and/or water, exposure to excessive heat or cold, and putting a cane, walker or wheelchair out of reach to deny mobility are all forms of physical abuse that harm the elderly even though they do not involve violence.
Your Denver Personal Injury Attorney encourages all family members who act as caregivers to an elderly family member to seek help if the emotional, physical and/or financial stress of that care is leading toward actions bordering on neglect and abuse. Being a caregiver to a very sick or frail elder who requires a lot of attention, or whose illness makes them abusive themselves at times (such as Alzheimer’s and dementia can do), can be overwhelming. Seeking counseling or help with the care before the situation gets out of control is best for everyone involved.
However, if you suspect abuse or neglect at the hands of any caregiver, paid or family member, report it immediately and then contact Jordan Levine your Denver Personal Injury Attorney at Levine Law.