Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Injuries: Common Questions and Answers

ISTOCK IMAGE ID 20674341Many people are unfamiliar with the facts of elder abuse and nursing home injuries. However, these problems are more common than many may think; according to the United States Department of Justice, about 11 percent of all elder persons are abused each year. In the United States there are more than 40 million people over the age of 65, meaning that at least 4 million elderly adults are abused each year in the United States. Read on for answers to common questions about elder abuse and nursing home injuries.

What is elder abuse? According to the Administration on Aging, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, elder abuse is defined as “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.” Elder abuse can happen in nursing homes and in other treatment settings.

What are the different types of elder abuse? There are 7 categories of elder abuse according to the National Center of Elder Abuse, which are:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Financial exploitation
  • Self-neglect

What are the symptoms of each type of abuse?

  • Signs of physical abuse include bruises, broken bones, welts, lacerations, sprains, ropes marks, or untreated injuries.
  • Signs of sexual abuse include bruises around breast or genital area, infections, or bleeding.
  • Symptoms of emotional abuse include being emotionally upset or agitated, being extremely withdrawn or non communicative, or unusual behavior.
  • Symptoms of neglect include dehydration, malnutrition, bed sores, poor hygiene, untreated health problems, or unsanitary living conditions.
  • Signs on abandonment are the the desertion of an elder at a hospital, nursing facility, or any other location.
  • Signs and symptoms or financial exploitation could be sudden change in bank account or banking practice, unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money, missing personal items, or sudden unexplained changes in living arrangements.
  • Signs of self neglect include any combinations of the symptoms described above.

What types of people most commonly abuse the elderly? The National Council on Aging reports that majority of incidents of elder abuse are committed by someone who is known to the victim. 90 percent of those who commit elder abuse are family members of the victim, and two-thirds are children or spouses.

What do I do if I suspect a case of elder abuse? If you suspect elder abuse is occurring, there are a few places you should contact:

  • Call emergency services (911) rights away for law enforcement and/or paramedics
  • Adults Protect Services
  • Long-term care ombudsmen
  • Physicians or medical providers
  • an attorney

What will the authorities do to help? The authorities will respond appropriately to whatever the circumstance requires. The police or paramedics will bring the victim to a safe location or hospital if they are in imminent physical danger. The police will also conduct an investigation and refer the complaint to the judicial system, if a crime has been committed. If the situation is less immediately harmful, many different routes can be taken. In general, the state’s office of Adult Protective Services will investigate the complaint, and enlist social services to address the health and safety concerns of the victim.


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