Discovering that an elderly loved one is the victim of elder abuse can be devastating. Unfortunately, elder abuse is far too common in Atlanta and across the United States. When an elderly individual is no longer able to care for himself or herself, he or she becomes dependent on caretakers. Loved ones should keep in mind that elder abuse can take place in many different types of living arrangements. Family members, professional at-home caregivers, nurses, or nursing home staff all have the potential to engage in elder abuse.
Family members of elderly loved ones should become familiar with the signs of elder abuse. Medical professionals and experienced caregivers have been known to miss the tell-tale signs of elder abuse. Elder abuse can take place in any establishment, even expensive nursing home care environments. Furthermore, an elderly individual is often less likely to report the abuse due to a lack of capacity or fear of retaliation by his or her abuser. Understanding the signs of elder abuse discussed below will help caregivers become aware of elder abuse and stop it as soon as possible.
Signs of Neglect of Elderly or Incapacitated Individuals
Not all elder abuse is intentional. Some elder abuse happens as a result of caretaker neglect. When elderly individuals are severely incapacitated, any amount of neglect by a caretaker could be deadly. For example, when a caretaker fails to check for bedsores on an immobile elderly patient, he or she could miss the bedsores. Left untreated, bedsores can result in sepsis. In severe cases, bedsores can result in death. The following situations could indicate caretaker neglect:
- Unsanitary or dirty living conditions
- Medications that are poorly managed by caretakers
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Unexplained medical conditions
- Medical conditions that are not treated properly
- Failure to wash the elderly individual’s clothing
- Failure to change bed linens frequently enough
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, neglect can lead to patients engaging in self-neglect. When caretakers are not providing adequate care, elderly individuals are more likely to engage in the following types of dangerous activities:
- Failure to clean up feces or urine in his or her living conditions
- Refusing necessary medical treatment
- Living in hazardous conditions or squalor
- Engaging in hoarding or cluttering activities
- Presenting with lice-infested or matted hair
- Failing to wear proper clothing during weather elements
Signs of Financial Exploitation
Unscrupulous individuals often prey on elderly people who own assets but are not able to protect themselves against abuse. Understanding common ways abusers exploit the elderly financially can help you prevent the abuse of yourself or a loved one. The following actions could indicate signs of elder abuse:
- An individual forges an elderly person’s checks or signature on financial documents
- An individual steals money or property from an elderly person
- An individual promises to care for the elderly person in exchange for money
- An individual engages in dishonest acts or deception to access assets from the elderly
- An individual threatens an elderly person if he or she does not pay money
- An individual charges an elderly individual’s credit cards without permission
- A group or individual engages in telemarketing or pyramid schemes, offering an elderly person exaggerated claims in an attempt to persuade them to invest money
- An individual engages in false deception, false pretenses, or dishonest acts to gain access to an elderly person’s financial status
- An individual forces an elderly person to sign a will under duress giving the individual money upon the death of the elderly individual
Check up with your loved one to ensure that no credit or debit cards are missing. Your loved one’s bank accounts should not show any insufficient sums or large withdrawals made by someone other than him or her. Sadly, family members are often perpetrators of financial exploitation of their elderly relatives. As medical treatment and residential living facilities become more expensive, financial exploitation becomes more devastating for elderly individuals.
Signs of Physical Abuse of Elderly Individuals in Atlanta
Physical abuse can be difficult to detect in some circumstances. Sometimes, elderly individuals fall and receive bruises in a purely accidental fashion. Nonetheless, it is important to look for signs of physical abuse of elderly individuals. If an elderly individual continues to receive scratches, cuts, or bruises or suffers repeated injuries, these signs could indicate abuse. Physical bruises or pain around the genital area could indicate that an elderly individual has been subject to domestic violence or sexual abuse.
Signs of Psychological Abuse of Elderly Individuals
Unfortunately, psychological abuse can be the most difficult type of abuse to recognize. Some elderly patients suffer from dementia or Alzheimers, making it challenging for them to remember and recount their abuse to a safe person. Sadly, consistent psychological abuse could cause an elderly person to become more withdrawn and afraid to report his or her abuser. Signs of psychological abuse include the following:
- An elderly person avoids eye contact
- An elderly person’s mood or attitude changes drastically
- An elderly person becomes scared when a certain caretaker enters the room
- An elderly person appears withdrawn, distressed, or more shy than usual.
- An elderly person’s sleeping patterns change
- The abuser attempts to keep the elderly individual from visiting family and friends
- The abuse victim’s sleeping and eating patterns change
Reporting Elder Abuse in Atlanta
If you discover that an elderly loved one has been subject to abuse, it is important to act quickly. You should report any emotional, physical, or other abuse to Georgia’s Division of Aging Services or the police. The government will assign a government-appointed caregiver to evaluate the situation of the elderly individual.
Georgia law allows victims of abuse to recover compensation for their injuries via a personal injury lawsuit. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries as a result of elder abuse, the attorneys at Cambre and Associates can help. Contact or Atlanta elder abuse law firm today to learn how we can fight for the right of you or your loved one to receive compensation for your injuries.