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What is Elder Abuse and How Can I Spot the Signs?

Many of us have elderly relatives and, often, many of them require the kind of help and assistance we are generally not qualified to provide. Therefore, we entrust their wellbeing to nursing homes, believing they will care for our elderly loved ones as we would. Unfortunately, elder abuse is a ubiquitous problem that affects millions. It is estimated more than 2 million cases of elder abuse are reported every year. Despite this large number, countless other incidents of nursing home abuse also go unreported.

What exactly is elder abuse? People tend to think of hitting, kicking, punching, or other types of physical harm when they hear the word “abuse,” but the fact is that elder abuse can encompass a vast range of forms. To spot the signs of elder abuse, it is important to visit your loved one regularly and to be observant of any indicators that might suggest he or she is being abused.

Below is a list of different types of elder abuse and how to spot the warning signs:

  • Physical abuse: This is one of the more obvious forms of abuse. It involves physical violence or force, resulting in either impairment, bodily injury, or pain to the elderly victim. Some of the signs you should look out for include abrasions or burns, broken or fractured bones, sprains, unexplainable bruising, other signs of trauma, such as hair loss or tooth loss. Additionally, you should also be aware of whether or not your loved one had to visit multiple health care facilities to treat any injuries, conflicting stories about how injuries were sustained and long delays between when an injury occurred and when it was treated.
  • Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse will not result in broken bones and bruises, but it is still incredibly harmful and results in severe mental anguish through the use of humiliation, threats, and other more insidious means. Some of the signs you should be aware of include stress-related signs of emotional abuse, an outwardly anxious or hesitant attitude, and unexplained rapid weight loss or weight gain. Your elderly loved one might also exhibit some behavioral red flags, including confusion or depression, agitation or non-responsiveness, trouble sleeping, and fear.
  • Elder neglect: Neglect is another common form of abuse and it is often a result of understaffing, though it is also possible for it to be deliberate. Either way, neglect poses a serious risk to an elderly person’s wellbeing. Some common signs of elder neglect include skin rashes, bed sores, signs of dehydration, the absence of certain medical aids, an unexplained or worsening chronic condition, and lack of proper clothing. Additionally, some behavioral signs that might indicate your elderly loved one is being neglected include nightmares, self-destructive behavior, regressive behavior, signs of emotional distress, confusion or disorientation, and appearing emotionally withdrawn.
  • Sexual abuse: It might seem unconscionable for anyone to engage in this kind of behavior, but our elderly loved ones are also often subject to sexual abuse, which includes unwanted touching, sexual assault, coerced nudity, intercourse, or taking pictures without consent. Some of the most common signs of sexual abuse include unexplained STDs, bruises on the genitals or breasts, underwear that is ripped or bloody, and unexplained genital infections.

Nursing home abuse often goes unreported to law enforcement. If you suspect your elderly loved one is being abused, it is critical that you report it and seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Elder Abuse Attorneys in Orange County

If you believe your elderly loved one is being abused or neglected by his or her caregivers, report the incident as soon as possible and contact our personal injury law firm for help. At the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg in Orange County, our team of elder abuse attorneys is prepared to provide the exceptional legal representation you and your family deserve to get you through this difficult time.

Get started on your case today and contact our law office at (949) 565-4281 to request your free initial case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys.