Do you suspect elder or vulnerable adult abuse?

Every year, between one and two million elderly and vulnerable Americans are mistreated, exploited or injured. This may happen in their own home at the hands of a family member, it might happen at the hands of a stranger such as con man or thief or it might be at the hands of someone charged to take care of the adult such as a nursing home, retirement home or group home.

We have almost become immune to headlines such as “Son kills his father in Austin homicide” or “Elderly woman found living in NYCHA housing squalor” or “Caregiver accused of stealing $75000.”

In cases of elder abuse, the most likely offender is a close relative, spouse, partner or the elder’s adult child. In fact, in approximately 84% of the cases of elder abuse, it is a close relative who abuses their relative.

The elder being abused might be your neighbor, someone you know from church or a friend of your parent.

Signs of Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is the theft of an elder person’s money, belongings or other property and it can occur at the hands of a relative, a conman or someone who has been hired to care for an elderly person. Unscrupulous caregivers or people who have gained the trust of an elderly person have been known to steal art collections, forge checks and loot bank accounts. Conmen have been known to perform costly but unnecessary home repairs or collect funds for non-existent charities.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Not all signs of physical abuse of an elder are apparent. However, if you notice signs of bruising, burns, welts, cuts or broken bones, there might be physical abuse going on.

Signs of Neglect

Elder neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Sometimes family members or in denial or ignorant about the care their loved one needs. In the an institutional setting, neglect can occur when employees of the facility are undertrained and overworked.

Some of the most frequent signs of neglect include unclean clothing and bed linens, poor personal hygiene including dirty hair and long nails, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores and the lack of medical attention.

What You Should Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse or Neglect

Some people such as police officers, healthcare providers and employees of care facilities are required by law to report suspected abuse to the authorities. The rest of us are morally obligated to share our concerns with authorities and to protect a person who might not be able to protect themselves. If you suspect abuse:

  1. CALL 911
  2. Call the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: 1-866-363-4276

If a loved one has been seriously injured or has died because of elder abuse or neglect, you might seek the advice of an experienced injury attorney who can make sure the rights of your loved one are protected. An experienced attorney can also seek compensation in civil court for the injuries and pain and suffering your loved one endured.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog as a service of The Farber Law Group. Our law firm has more than 30 years experience representing victims of elder abuse and neglect and their families.

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