Although elder abuse is not a new problem in the United States, it is a growing problem. The reasons for this are complex; however, the sheer number of older Americans is one contributing factor. The average life expectancy of an American has nearly doubled over the last century, causing the population of older Americans to swell. Unfortunately, this also means that elder abuse has become a very real concern. If you have a parent, or other loved one, who is part of the older demographic, you must be vigilant to ensure that they do not become a victim of elder abuse. Toward that end, the Essex Junction elder law attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC offer tips to help you spot the signs of elder abuse.
Elder Abuse Facts and Figures
Accurate figures about the prevalence of elder abuse are difficult to come by for several reasons. Because many states are just now enacting legislation making elder abuse a criminal offense, uniform reporting requirements are lacking. In addition, many victims of elder abuse are embarrassed or ashamed to be a victim and, therefore, fail to report the abuse. Finally, victims of elder abuse are often dependent on their abuser, making them fear reprisals if they report the abuse. The following facts and figures are thought to be conservative estimates relating to elder abuse:
Spotting Signs of Elder Abuse
We know that the victims of elder abuse frequently do not report the abuse. Therefore, it is up to family members and loved ones to be on the lookout for signs of abuse, including:
What Can I Do If I Suspect Elder Abuse?
Any of these signs could be a sign that your loved one is the victim of elder abuse. If you suspect abuse, try to discuss the issue with your loved one. Start by explaining how common it is and reassuring them that they are not alone. Keep in mind that they will likely be reluctant to talk to you; however, if you feel as though something is wrong, it probably is.
If your loved one is in a long-term care facility, or being cared for by an in-home healthcare provider, make an appointment to speak with a supervisor and/or administrator and express your concerns. If your attempts at resolving the issue are not successful, contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and make a formal complaint. At a bare minimum, they will have to investigate your complaint.
Finally, consult with an experienced elder law attorney in your area. You may need to petition to become your loved one’s guardian to ensure that he/she is removed from a dangerous environment and that something similar does not happen in the future. In addition, your loved one may have the basis for a civil lawsuit, along with criminal charges, if he/she was, indeed, the victim of elder abuse.
Contact Essex Junction Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please attend one of our upcoming FREE webinars. If you have questions or concerns about elder abuse, contact an experienced Essex Junction elder law attorney at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.