Elder abuse is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. It entails any sort of neglect, harm, or exploitation of someone over the age of 65 or a dependent adult who cannot adequately care for him or herself. Unfortunately, this abuse affects as many as 1 in 7 senior citizens and dependent adults. It can take many forms, including:
- Willful neglect on the caregiver’s part
- Direct physical abuse
- Tampering with medications
- Deliberately confusing or disrupting a dependent who is not of sound mind
- Scamming a senior citizen or dependent adult out of his or her financial assets
- Theft, including identity theft (such as using a credit card in an elder or dependent’s name)
While society condemns such crimes when they’re perpetrated against anyone, the courts can impose harsher punishments if the victim is an elderly or dependent person.
What Determines Abuse?
If you suspect that your loved one suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm, you may have an elder abuse claim against a caregiver or facility. Here’s a catalogue of common types of harm:
- Abandonment or isolation. For instance, the caregiver of a dependent left his or her charge alone and unable to fend for him or herself.
- Abduction. The elder or dependent was taken somewhere against his or her will.
- Neglect. The caregiver of a dependent did not fulfill his or her duties in terms of feeding, bathing, or administering medications.
- Threats or coercion. A person intimidated the dependent in order to obtain something, such as money or financial account information. Alternatively, a nurse at a nursing home threatened the elder with poor care or isolation for not cooperating.
- Identity Theft. Identity theft involves illegally obtaining and using someone’s personal information, like a social security number or driver’s license information. Unfortunately, identify scammers often target the elderly, since older people with dementia or cognitive impairment may struggle to understand when they’ve been tricked or misled.
- Humiliation. A story in December in the Washington Post, “Nursing home workers have been posting abusive photos of elderly on social media,” illustrated a particularly egregious example of humiliation: “ProPublica has identified 35 instances since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers have surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents, some of whom were partially or completely naked. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear for a few seconds and then disappear with no lasting record. Some have led to criminal charges, including a case filed earlier this month in California against a nursing assistant. Most have not, even though posting patients’ photos without their permission may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient privacy law that carries civil and criminal penalties.”
What Can You Do to Fight for Justice, In Addition to Calling a Qualified Elder Abuse Attorney?
Be alert for warning signs of elder abuse. Victims may hesitate to speak up for themselves or be unable to do so. Relatives, caregivers, and other people close to the victim commonly perpetrate elder abuse. Contact our legal team to examine the details of your situation and suggest strategic, effective ways to investigate, hold liable parties responsible and ensure better, safer care for your loved one.