Why Don’t People Report Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse may not have the splashy public relations campaign that other types of abuse may have, but it is happening – and at an alarming rate. Current figures from National Council on Aging report elder abuse as happening to 1 of every 10 Americans ages 60 and over, with only 1 of every 14 cases of abuse being reported to authorities. National Council on Aging goes on to report that nearly half of all adults who suffer from mental impairments, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, have been victims of abuse or neglect.
Why Is This Crime so Underreported?
A major problem with elder abuse is the lack of reporting, which is a serious concern for many different reasons. One of the most important, and solvable, contributors to that problem is the lack of education about the signs and symptoms of elder abuse, which is evident even among professionals who work with the elderly every day. Another contributor to the problem is that many of the victims cannot or will not speak up for themselves.
Sometimes it’s a matter of health. Those with late stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s may not even realize the abuse is taking place because their impaired mental condition prevents them from recognizing the abuse. Others simply may not understand that what they are experiencing is abuse. Not all abuse is physical, after all. Among the elderly there are many different types of abuse. Financial abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and neglect, are among the most common.
The first step in the right direction is training professionals to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse, such as bed sores, unusual spending or withdrawals, poor hygiene, unexplained weight loss, social withdrawal, depression, bruises, burns, broken bones, and abrasions.
Raising awareness among medical professionals who work with the elderly is not enough. The public in general needs to be educated about the problem, how widespread it is, and how devastating the consequences can be. Another sobering statistic from National Council on Aging is that victims of elder abuse have a 300 percent greater risk of death than those who have not been abused.
Reporting elder abuse is a critical first step for not only putting an end to it, but also for preventing it from happening to other people entrusted to the care of the facility or provider committing the abuse. The elder abuse attorneys at Garcia, Artigliere & Medby want to help you get justice and hold the people responsible for elder abuse accountable for it. Call us today to get the wheels of justice turning for your loved one.