Physical Elder Abuse

elderly-woman-nursing-home-abused-by-nurseImagine arriving at your grandmother’s assisted living facility to find her wearing dirty clothes. You notice several bruises on her arms and staff report that she has a couple of new bed sores. Although once bright and outgoing, your grandmother now seems sad and withdrawn.

Elder abuse is a tragic fact of life for approximately 5 million older adults every year. And according to the World Health Organization, an older person residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility is at even higher risk of bodily harm.

But the legal team at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC is helping elderly abuse and neglect victims and their families right these wrongs.

The nursing home abuse lawyers have extensive experience litigating cases of abuse or neglect. They have helped hundreds of families receive compensation for elder abuse and can help yours too. Call (800) 926-7565 for a free review of your case.

Physical Elder Abuse Defined

Abuse can be either single or multiple acts. Physical abuse is anything that causes bodily harm or pain to an older adult.

Are there different types of abuse?

Although physical abuse is horrific, other types of elder abuse also occur daily

Other types of abuse may include:

  • Sexual abuse: sexual interaction that is coerced and involves older adults unable to give consent
  • Emotional abuse: threats, isolation, or other verbal attacks that damage the emotional well being
  • Financial abuse: theft of an older adult’s money or other assets
  • Neglect: failure to provide for an older adult’s needs, including the withholding of medical care

Who is at risk of being a victim of physical elder abuse?

Physical elder abuse happens to a vulnerable person, such as an older adult. Sadly, the abuse commonly occurs at the hands of someone the victim should have been able to trust, such as a family member or even a professional caregiver.

Risk factors for becoming a victim of physical abuse include cognitive impairment, physical debility, and any other aspect that increases an older adult’s reliance on another person to meet basic needs. Abuse can occur across various settings, including in the older person’s home or a nursing home.

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

Signs of elder abuse can be challenging to detect. At other times, abuse may be blatantly obvious. But as a caring family member, you are in the best position to identify abuse or neglect in your loved one.

What are the physical signs of abuse?

Physical signs of abuse can be as obvious as broken bones or as subtle as difficulty sleeping at night. Abuse can also present as apparent indicators of physical restraint, such as arm or leg bruises. Many seniors experience unexplained weight loss.

What are the emotional signs of abuse?

Sudden changes in behavior, especially in people with cognitive impairment, are an immediate red flag for possible interpersonal violence. And according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, fear, anxiety, and depression can also be warning signs of abuse and neglect.

What are the signs of financial abuse?

An older person’s money may also be an unfortunate target for abuse. Bank accounts may have fraudulent charges, and an older adult may suddenly be unable to pay bills. There may also be sudden changes in documents, including a will or house or property deed.

Causes of Physical Elder Abuse

Although always unacceptable, there are a few underlying reasons why physical elder abuse starts.

What factors increase the risk for physical elder abuse?

Older adults can become more withdrawn from friends, family, and society as they age. Abusers commonly isolate their victims so they can continue perpetrating the abuse.

And according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, lower socioeconomic status and a previous trauma experience also increase the risk that an older person will be physically abused. An overall lack of social support and connection places an older adult at significant risk for such adverse outcomes.

Who causes abuse, and can family members be at fault?

Abuse of a vulnerable person is often a complex situation with many potential causes. And unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization, rates of elder abuse have only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sadly, elder mistreatment is often caused by the very people entrusted with the older person's care. And as people age, an older adult sometimes relies more heavily on family members for additional support.

But family members often have their own risk factors increasing the risk of perpetrating elder abuse. A history of mental illness or early exposure to psychological abuse as a child are red flags for abuse.

Substance misuse issues and interpersonal relational issues further increase the risk for abuse of an older adult.

Physical and Mental Challenges of Caregiving

Caring for a loved one with cognitive or health challenges can be physically and mentally taxing. If a family caregiver is struggling to meet their own needs, caring for someone else’s needs may be enough to push their stress level over the limit resulting in abuse.

Health care workers can also cause physical abuse. Working as a caregiver in a nursing home is stressful and may serve as an underlying cause of elder abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home staffing issues can increase the risk for abuse within a facility.

It’s also not uncommon for health care workers to inflict financial abuse by stealing money or credit cards from vulnerable residents.

What To Do If You Suspect Physical Elder Abuse

Despite its prevalence, there are steps you can take to stop the physical abuse of your loved one. The persistent connection to loved ones is one of the best ways to detect physical elder abuse. By staying in contact, you're better positioned to notice subtle changes such as those caused by emotional abuse.

Where should suspicions of abuse be reported

Family members have several options for reporting suspected elder abuse. If you witness physical elder abuse, you can choose to call 911 to report your suspicions. Adult Protective Services often gets involved in cases of elder abuse.

Adult Protective Services is an agency tasked with investigating allegations of abuse. If the abuse is substantiated, they work with the older adult to address any emergent needs and develop a plan to remedy the situation.

Although the rules around how to report abuse vary by state, health care providers are required to report suspected abuse. Suspicions of abuse often happen when family caregivers bring the older adult experiencing abuse in for medical care.

The physically abused older person may have broken bones or signs of sexual abuse. And if your loved one is residing in a nursing home, you can contact the facility’s administrator, social worker, or the long-term care ombudsman.

Regardless of your loved one’s situation, you can always report elder abuse directly to the police.

Treatment and Recovery From Abuse

Victims of physical elder abuse and their family members often feel a range of emotions even after the abusive situation ends.

Shame, embarrassment, and depression are common. You may feel guilty about the physical abuse experienced by your loved one. Or, if financial exploitation was involved, your loved one may be struggling to pay bills or may even be at risk of losing their housing.

Recovery from physical abuse takes time. Discussing the abusive situation with a health care provider is essential.

The provider can do a thorough assessment to determine the extent of the person’s injuries. They may also recommend medication changes or other interventions to aid recovery.

Cognitive or Memory Impairment

If your loved one is not affected by dementia or another type of cognitive or memory impairment, consider helping them connect with a counselor to discuss their experience. Counselors are trained in helping people overcome traumatic experiences in ways that are not possible when talking with family or friends.

You may also benefit from speaking with a counselor to help you process any feelings of guilt or anxiety related to the elder abuse of your loved one. Seeing a loved one go through a traumatic situation can bring up trauma from your past and make healing from the situation nearly impossible.

When someone has dementia, explaining that they are now free from abuse and no longer need to live in a state of constant fear is, at best, difficult. It can be challenging to help your loved one feel safe again because their inner world has been turned upside down.

In situations where the older adult has dementia, recovery can be even more complicated.

Relocating Your Loved One Can Help

If they reside in a nursing home, finding an alternative placement may be the best way to aid their recovery. And although challenging, moving your loved one may help them detach from the abusive experience and form new, positive associations by being in a completely different environment.

Many counties throughout the United States have an Aging and Disability Resource Center. The ADRC helps connect people who are elderly or have some type of disability with the resources they need.

They may have resources to help caregivers and family members navigate a variety of challenging situations.

There may be support groups in your area for family members and caregivers of people who are elderly and have dementia. Support groups can connect you with others going through similar situations and create social support for both you and your loved one.

The ADRC often has information about support groups in your area as well as additional information on how to prevent abuse.

How Nursing Home Law Center Can Help

Aside from healing physically and emotionally, there are legal aspects of physical elder abuse for which advice from an attorney is warranted.

In situations where the abuse occurred at the hands of a caregiver or member of the victim’s family, protecting your loved one from further egregious acts is paramount. Achieving this may involve filing a protection order.

You may need a court order to evict the person causing abuse if the victim and abuser live together.

In certain situations, filing a criminal complaint against the abuser is necessary. And in cases of financial exploitation, it may be in the victim’s best interest to file a legal claim against the person who stole assets.

Depending upon the state in which you live and the amount stolen, your options for doing so are different.

Potential Long-Term Damage

Abuse causes significant and potentially long-term damage to the victim and their loved ones. In the immediate aftermath, your biggest concern should be helping your loved one recover instead of trying to figure out complicated legal jargon.

You may also have significant mental trauma from your loved one’s ordeal and need to focus on your healing so you can be there for your family.

Whether physical, financial, or emotional abuse, you need legal advice you can trust. It would help if you had advice from professionals who know the laws in your state and can help you recover what you deserve.

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer to Resolve a Physical Elder Abuse Case

The attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC are ready to listen to your case and make recommendations to help achieve safety and the ultimate well-being of your loved one. They are working diligently to ensure victims and their families recover their losses and sense of normalcy.

Nursing Home Law Center, LLC is fighting the injustices of physical elder abuse one case at a time. If your loved one has been affected by this heinous crime, call today for a free consultation of your case. Healing from trauma requires a team approach. You need experience and a strong ally. You will find both in Nursing Home Law Center, LLC.

Don’t fight this alone. Call the attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC at (800) 926-7565 for your free consultation today.


Client Reviews

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric