According to an article in The Oklahoman, in 2015, 11 percent of Oklahomans age 60 and older annually faced some type of elder abuse attempt. These statistics are frightening for anyone caring for an aging loved one. In-home caregivers or elder care facilities should be trusted, welcoming, and safe. Unfortunately, elder abuse does happen, and it can be devastating to victims and their families. The attorneys at Brown & Gould, PLLC can help educate you and your family on signs of neglect or abuse, tips for prevention, and remedies for instances of improper and harmful conduct.
Elder abuse can take many forms. It can range from neglect at the hands of a family member responsible for the care of a loved one to physical abuse by a hired caregiver. It can include negligence by a professional at an assisted living facility or intentional acts by a nursing home employee. Elder abuse encompasses many acts or failures to act by those tasked with caring for a vulnerable population.
Risk Factors and Signs of Abuse
Unfortunately, elder abuse affects vulnerable individuals who may not be able to call attention to a problem even if they are aware it exists. Thus, family members should make efforts to be vigilant about certain risk factors and signs of abuse.
Often individuals who require elder care have some physical limitations illness which may leave them unable to care for themselves. They may also experience personality changes which can lead to combativeness or physical aggression. Providing extensive care for angry or hostile individuals can be exhausting for a caregiver, and caregiver stress or inability to cope with responsibilities is one of the greatest risk factors for elder abuse.
Some persons needing care experience significant social isolation and confusion rendering them particularly vulnerable to abuse. Additionally, for those persons with a previous history of physical or emotional abuse or domestic violence, the odds of becoming a repeat victim are increased.
Signs of Abuse
Although there may not be any way to witness the abuse first hand, there are many signs to look for if you believe that your loved one may be a victim.
First, caregivers who knowingly commit abuse are often incredibly reluctant to let loved ones see an elder alone. Responsible family members should always be allowed to see the person under care without the caregiver present, especially if it is at the request of the elder.
Any unexplained medical problem should also be carefully examined. Overdose of medication or a cessation of taking medication could be purposefully caused by the caregiver or could be a result of negligence by the caregiver to properly monitor medical conditions or supervise the elder.
Other more obvious signs of abuse may be physical evidence of injuries or harm to elder or damage to elder’s property. Victims of physical abuse may have unexplained bruises, cuts, or other injuries which cannot be attributed to everyday activities. If the elder cannot explain these injuries or becomes confused or reluctant to speak about them, this can be a sign of abuse. Broken or damaged property can also signal abuse as eyeglasses or clothing may be damaged during physical abuse or other personal property may be damaged as a threat of abuse.
A more subtle sign of abuse is a change in behavior or personality. Victims of abuse may experience withdrawal from loved ones. They may also express anger or sadness at inappropriate times. This can be a coping mechanism for abuse victims especially those suffering from severe neglect or emotional abuse.
If you are close to someone needing elder care, the best course of action is to be attentive, stay involved, listen carefully, and intervene quickly if abuse becomes evident. If you believe that a loved one is suffering elder abuse, please contact the attorneys at Brown & Gould, PLLC who can help you determine the best course of action for the elder involved. For the convenience of our clients, we are glad to schedule off-site, evening or weekend appointments. Call our office at 405-235-4500.