Elder abuse is defined as a violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productivity, isolation, and despair. According to the National Center on Elderly Abuse Administration on Aging (NCEA) in the U.S., the 2010 census recorded the greatest increase in our elderly persons age 65 and older at 40.3 million or 13% of our total population. This growing number is due to our success in medical and technological advances, but it is just as important to ensure quality of life for those who’ve had the tenacity to live a long life. Due to this increase, more disabled and vulnerable elders may place additional physical and emotional stress on both institutional and non-institutional caregivers. Many people who are entrusted to care for the elders can become stressed, depressed, or overwhelmed, which can lead to mistreatment and abuse of the elderly person in trusted care.
Many elders become frail and are unable to stand up to bullying or fight back. They may be confused or forgetful, making them easy targets for abuse, neglect, or extortion. Most cases of reported abuse in elder abuse law happen in the elderly person’s own home or in a relatives’ home. The abuser can be a friend, relative, or even a spouse who is overwhelmed and does not take the time to get additional support or help because they feel like they can manage the situation. An elderly person that develops Alzheimer’s’ disease or dementia may be especially difficult to handle because of the nature of this illness. Many caregivers fail to use the resources available to them resulting in negligence or abuse of the elder person they are entrusted to care for.
At the national law firm of Garcia, Artigliere & Medby, our elder abuse lawyers have extensive experience in handling elder abuse instances. We are nationally known for our capacity to take on extremely challenging cases and use results-oriented approach to litigation in elder abuse law. We do all of this with the tenacity and courage to stand up and tell our clients’ stories to a jury, getting them the results they need and deserve. We are confident and compassionate elder abuse lawyers who take the route that best supports your case and will award you the maximum compensation.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is any knowing, intentional, or neglectful act by a caretaker that causes harm to another older person who is unable to defend themselves.
What are the warning signs of elder abuse or senior abuse?
- Elderly person appears to have a change in their personality or behavior. They may seem more irritable, withdrawn, scared, or confused.
- Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person, where both parties may be more stressed and confrontational.
- Caregiver’s refusal to allow others to visit the elderly person.
- Any unusual physical marks on the elderly person such as abrasions, scratches, and bruises.
- An elderly person who has a disability, Alzheimer’s’ disease, or dementia may be at more of a risk for abuse due to the complexity of their diagnosis.
- An elderly person who has a history of domestic violence in the past may be at more risk of being a victim of abuse.
- Social isolation if the caretaker and the elderly person are alone together most of the time.
What are the different types of elder abuse?
Elderly abuse can take many forms including: physical, emotional, sexual, and financial exploitation. As an elderly person’s ability to take care of themselves deteriorates, and the caretaker takes on more responsibility, this can become an extremely stressful situation. Any abuse of an elder whether major or minor is unacceptable. It can be a terrifying experience caused by a significant breakdown in the responsibilities of individual caretakers, local, state, and government personnel to assure that the elderly and disabled have a safe and nurturing environment to live in. The different forms of elderly abuse can be but are not limited to:
- Physical Abuse: Purposefully inflicting physical pain or injury, such as slapping, punching, kicking, pushing, pinching, and unnecessarily restraining a senior person.
- Emotional Abuse: Using humiliation, threats, yelling, or intimidation to coerce an elderly person into submission.
- Sexual Abuse: The act of unwanted, non-consensual sexual act or contact of any kind.
- Abandonment: Unnecessary desertion of an elder by the person who assumed responsibility for that individual, knowing the elder is unable to take care of themselves.
- Medical Mismanagement: Unprofessional caregivers can sometimes give an overdose/ or under dose of medication. They can purposefully steal medications. A caretaker may accidentally combine medications. All of these neglectful acts may injure, harm, or cause fatality for an elder.
- Malnutrition & Dehydration: It is important for any elder caregiver to understand necessary dietary requirements and regulations to ensure an elderly person has their nutritional needs met.
- Unsuitable and Unsanitary Living Conditions: An elderly person is subjected to an unsafe environment such as lack of proper heating/cooling systems, no running water, faulty electric wiring, or other hazards that can pose a potential risk of injury or fatality. Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather conditions that leaves the elder at risk of exposure, exhaustion, or other health related issues.
- Financial Exploitation: The act of taking, misusing, concealing funds, property, or assets of an elderly person. Online scams involving the promise of rewards for services paid upfront tend to target elderly people. Identity theft is a large problem for elders – this might range from stealing their identity to forging checks. Elders should be wary of any investments that sound too good to be true. Any misuse of personal checks, credit cards, or any type of account is considered financial fraud.
What are the risk factors for caregivers?
- Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or stressed about the situation.
- Lack of resources such as medical, financial, or emotional assistance.
- Substance abuse.
- Lack of support from other potential caregivers such as relief from other family and or friends who could help but have not made themselves available.
- Lack of training to take care of any physical or medical needs the elderly person may need such as giving proper medicine dosage or changing soiled dressing.
- Perception of the caregiver that the elderly person is an unwanted burden.<l/i>
- Continuous and unexplained falls, uneasiness or shaky disposition of the elder.
What can a caregiver do to prevent neglect and abuse?
- Find an adult daycare provider who can offer a timed relief, even if it is brief.
- Stay healthy, active, and social so you can be emotionally satisfied.
- Learn, practice, and perform stress relieving methods to help cope with the situation.
- Request help from family, friends, or a local respite care agency so you can take a break.
- Find a support group or seek counseling specifically related to being a caretaker of an elder.
What is healthcare fraud and abuse?
A senior citizen may be susceptible to unethical doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Some instances of healthcare fraud and abuse are:
- Charging an elderly person for healthcare services that they never received.
- Overcharging or double-billing for medical services or care.
- Over or under-medicating an elderly person.
- Recommending remedies for any medical condition that the elderly person does not have.
- Receiving kickbacks or referrals to other providers for prescribing certain medications.
- Performing unnecessary procedures on an elderly person.
What is viatical fraud?
Life settlements, or viatical settlements, occur when an individual sells their life insurance policy for immediate assets. A life settlement investor buys the life insurance policy from someone who is typically elderly, and/or in bad health. The individual could need cash for medical treatments, living expenses, or their family. Unfortunately, seniors are being unfairly targeted and scammed to sell their life insurance policy.
How to Prevent Elder Abuse & Neglect
It is up to all of us to protect and safeguard elderly persons from potential senior abuse and neglect. We can do this by listening, observing, and questioning elders when we see drastic changes in their behavior and personality. We can intervene on the elder’s behalf if we suspect they may be a victim of fraud, neglect, or abuse. We can educate ourselves, the elderly person, and others about how to recognize signs of abuse/neglect and how to report a potentially harmful situation before it gets any worse. We must keep in mind, that the elder may feel helpless against their perpetrator especially if the abuser is a friend or family member.
Leaders in Elder Abuse Law
Elder Abuse Attorney Stephen M. Garcia of Garcia, Artigliere & Medby is a leader in the field of senior abuse litigation. Over the span of his career, he has acted as an advocate for the elder, helped shape elder abuse law, and has testified in front of the legislator on elder abuse issues. Mr. Garcia has served as a legislative analyst on behalf of elderly and dependent adults and those who their care is entrusted. Mr. Garcia has testified before the California Legislature in support of legislation advancing the rights and concerns of California’s elders. When our client’s rights are violated, and they cannot defend themselves against their abusers, we are here to hit back even harder with the velocity and vitality needed to get the results you deserve.
Contact our Elder Abuse Lawyers
We have offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, and Washington and serve clients on a national level in elder abuse law. Have you or a loved one suffered from senior abuse? Call us for a free and confidential consultation at 800.281.8515. Se habla español.