Everyone, especially the elderly, deserves to be treated with dignity in a safe environment. Unfortunately, too many older Americans are neglected, abused or exploited. Research indicates that 10 percent of elderly individuals 60 years and older will be the victim of some type of abuse every year. Sadly, less than one in 10 elder abuse cases are ever reported to an authority. However, World Elder Abuse Day participants are bringing awareness to the problem of serious prevalent harm to senior citizens.
Elderly abuse does not always occur physically, but can happen emotionally, financially or through neglect. As senior citizens age, their bodies often become physically frail, making it more challenging to fight back to protect themselves when attacked, or guard against bullying. Their physical limitations often make it challenging to hear or see, and their mental acuity might be impaired, which often makes thinking clearly difficult. As a result, unscrupulous individuals can prey on the elderly to take advantage of them through physical, emotional or financial ways.
Many elderly individuals across the nation, including in Illinois, are routinely abused, and often suffer harm from individuals who are directly responsible to provide their care. The senior is often subjected to threats, intimidation, neglect and/or financial deception.
- Physical Abuse – The law defines physical abuse against an elderly individual as an intentional use of force causing impairment, injury or physical pain. The abuse can occur in ways other than physical assault like shoving or hitting, through an inappropriate means of confinement, restraint or use of drugs.
- Emotional Abuse – Individuals causing emotional abuse to the elderly might involve threatening or speaking in a manner that causes distress or emotional pain. Often considered psychological abuse, intimidating or threatening words spoken to the elderly can occur as yelling or by ridiculing causing humiliation. It can also involve a scapegoat attack through habitual blaming. Nonverbal psychological abuse can take place through ignoring the person, isolating them from activities or friends, or menacing (terrorizing) the senior.
- Sexual Abuse – This type of abuse involves sexual conduct with the senior without his or her consent. It can involve a physical sex act, and/or exposure to pornographic material, forcing them to undress or watch sex acts.
- Neglect – Whenever a caretaker fails to fulfill their obligations to the elderly individual, it is often deemed neglect. The action or omission of action can be intentional or unintentional. Neglect is often based on a variety of factors including denying the level of care the elderly individual needs, or ignoring it.
- Financial Exploitation and Deception – Others often financially exploit elderly individuals through unauthorized use of their property or funds. It can occur by misusing bank accounts, credit cards and checks, or stealing money, household goods, or the elder’s identity. Numerous rackets specifically target the elderly including phony charities, paying money to claim a prize, or investment fraud.
Growing Numbers of Elderly Abuse
As the American population continues to grow older, elder abuse numbers continue to rise. Research estimates indicate that nearly 80,000 Illinois residents are victims of elder abuse, and less than 10 percent of all senior abuse occurrences have been reported to authorities or agencies including Adult Protective Services. The abuses involve:
- Alleged financial exploitation (more than 50 percent)
- Alleged passive or active neglect (more than 45 percent)
- Alleged emotional abuse (more than 45 percent)
- Alleged physical abuse (more than 25 percent)
Often times, witnesses of elder abuse turn a blind eye and do not take steps to prevent the negligence being caused by medical staff, nursing home employees, family members or supposed friends. In fact, many elderly individuals suffer abuse at the hands of others in their own homes, at the home of relatives, or at facilities that are paid to be responsible for providing care.
Since June 2006, hundreds of thousands of individuals have become involved in participating in World Elder Abuse Day as a way to raise awareness on economic, social and cultural processes that affect elder neglect and abuse. The special day of celebration provides the opportunity or call to action for communities, organizations and individuals to increase awareness about elders in their community that are being subjected to neglect, abuse and exploitation. Every active participant can make a difference to improve the community and the nation.
If an elderly loved one is suffering abuse and neglect from others, it is essential to call the Nursing Home Law Center LLC at (800) 926-7565 to speak with an attorney today. Our nursing home neglect attorneys specialize in abuse cases. Our law firm can hold responsible parties accountable for the injury, humiliation and pain caused to your loved one, and stop the neglect and abuse immediately.