As Many as 10% of American Elderly Sustaining Abuse, According to the New England Journal of Medicine
Written by Jeff Meyer on November 11, 2015
In a peer-reviewed and scientifically valid census of the prevalence of elder abuse in American, the latest and arguably most robust of its kind from such a respected medical journal, has determined that nearly ten (10%) percent of the entire elder population in the US has sustained some form of elder abuse. In short, the findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine corroborate other medical and legal research, as well as activist and government findings all pointing towards elder abuse as one of the most prevalent forms of the abuse in the entire country. And yet conversely, elder abuse is also the least reported types of abuse in the entire country, according to researchers.
Known Problems with Reporting and Identifying Elder Abuse in the Legal and Medical Community
Problematically, elderly patient populations already posed known risks for being incapable or unwilling to inform officials, loved ones, or even investigators of ongoing abuse in a nursing home facility. The reasoning may range from the desire not to be a burden, to fears of reprisals, to fears of similar conditions in any other hypothetical residence, and finally, given the age cohort involved, dementia and other cognitive deficits can impede gathering a coherent, direct witness statement. This acceptance of abuse or abusive type physical or verbal interactions with staff is in itself a warning sign of ill-treatment to informed professionals. Finally, elderly patients lack the technological skills and potentially phone access to report instances of abuse privately in a manner to protect themselves, while also arguing their case objectively and precisely. Given commonplace cognitive impairment symptomology in geriatric nursing home residents, elderly victims with dementia are almost certainly less likely to be believed if reporting or attempting to communicate elder abuse.
The Most Prevalent Forms of Elder Abuse Are Frequently Invisible
- Another complication to fuller reporting of abuse incidents is that fact that residents may simply not be aware that a given interaction is abusive in nature if the acts do not entail actual physical violence or some other less than accurate understanding of their legal rights. In practice, elder abuse identified as definitively abuse identified the Journal of Medicine hold that abuse can include:
- Verbal abuse, which is the most common form of elderly abuse, including threats, taunts, ridicule, and other statements that jeopardize an elderly person’s enhanced legal right to generally positive psychological states. In a caregiver and patient context, verbal abuse is rarely excusable and hardly permissible. Moreover, verbal abuse is rarely reported.
- Other forms of elder abuse take the shape of sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and physical abuse comparable to battery, assault, or occasionally, criminal confinement in cases of illegally using restraints on an uncooperative elderly resident
- Breaches of the duty of care owed to nursing home caregivers to patients most frequently appear about elder abuse neglect cases, while family members are overwhelmingly the perpetrators in financial exploitation forms of crimes involving the elderly. In both cases, serious legal violations of a position of trust over a vulnerable or dependent individual open grounds for legal claims for damages, should they ensue in the elderly patient after given incident.
- The Journal of Medicine went so far as to posit that the majority of abusers of the elderly are spouses or younger adult children. Males exhibit extensively more proclivity towards elder abuse than females with many perpetrators having a prior medical history including mental health issues, substance abuse, or criminal conduct. Moreover, these individuals frequently use ongoing financial issues in their lives to justify manipulating elderly relatives financially, including the common practice of unauthorized access to financial accounts of the elderly victim
For Families Facing Urgent Elder Abuse Issues, Legal Counsel Might Be Able to Help
If only for the sake of contacting appropriate state agencies, beginning an independent investigation, and documenting ongoing incidents in a suspected abuse case as part of a future claims case, legal counsel can provide ample resources to families unsure of how to cope with suspected nursing home abuse, finding safe and incident free nursing homes with high federal audit results, and asserting the legal rights of an elderly resident to freedom from abuse or otherwise hostile environments in all interactions with nursing home officials.