Physical abuse of the elderly is heartbreaking. Often times, the abuser is a trusted individual or someone that is close to the senior. Physical abuse ranges from small incidents, like shoving, to life threatening behaviors, such as strangling or breaking bones. Abuse can be a single incident or a long and deliberate pattern of abuse.
Elders abused by caretakers are in a terrifying position. In a nursing home or assisted living facility, the caregiver has power over vital processes like distributing food and medications. They can withhold medical attention, food, and access to visitors as leverage to keep the senior from reporting abuse.
The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) research indicates that women residents, as well as patients of both sexes over the age of 80, face the highest risk of abuse. The federation estimates that only one in six patients who experience any kind of elder abuse report it. Victims of elder abuse face a 300% increase in the risk of death for three years following any incident of abuse.
If your loved one is in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, monitor their care, health, and behavior. It is a simple, but very important, step you can take to help protect them from abuse.
Signs of Physical Abuse
Elderly people often have thin skin that can bruise easily. The presence of an occasional bruise and scratch is inevitable and not necessarily a sign of abuse. If there is a pattern of bruising, abrasions, and recurring “accidents,” that may be a sign of abuse. If your loved one is injured, document the injury. Even if the injury seems small and unimportant at the time, it may be a part of a larger pattern.
These are possible signs that your loved one is being physically abused:
- Burn marks
- Hair or tooth loss
- Bruises, especially those that wrap around the resident’s arm
- Abrasions that might indicate use of restraints
- Broken bones, sprains, dislocated joints
- Internal pain
- Reluctance to talk about an injury or to get medical care
- Implausible or incongruent accounts of how an injury occurred
- Tense or fearful relationship with caregivers
- Sudden social or emotional withdrawal
What to Do
If you suspect that your elder is being physically abused, take action today. Evaluate the situation and speak with your loved one. If they have serious injuries or you believe they are unsafe in their current environment, remove them from the situation.
Once he or she is relocated to a safe environment, call others to action. Contact Powers Taylor to help determine what your next steps should be. Report the incident to a state agency by calling the Elder Abuse Hotline. In Texas, the number is 1-800-252-5400. Your report can be crucial to other elders and their families as well. If a staff person has been abusing your loved one, he or she may also be abusing other seniors in their care.
At Powers Taylor, we have experience handling all types of elder abuse cases. Our attorneys relentlessly pursue the proper legal channels to help our clients fight for justice. We fight for those without a voice. We are ready to help.
Call us to today for a free consultation to determine your next steps.