The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that one out of every ten Americans 60 and above (approximately 4.6 million as of 2014) has experienced some form of elder abuse. Sadly, this estimate is likely much higher. Fortunately, if your loved one was the victim of abuse or neglect, a New York City elder abuse and neglect lawyer is here to help.
The elder advocates at Buttafuoco & Associates are ready to help New York families seek justice after the abuse or neglect of an elderly loved one.
Why is the number likely much higher?
Statistics reported by NCOA estimate that as many as five million elders suffer abuse annually. However, NCOA believes this number to be inaccurate as studies estimate that elders report only one out of every 14 cases of abuse.
Why do so many elders decide against reporting abuse?
There are quite a few reasons elders do not report abuse, including:
- Their mental state (e.g., they may be unsure of what happened, they may believe no one will believe them, etc.)
- Their caregiver is a family member or trusted friend
- Lack of education on abuse
- Not knowing how or where to report abuse
- Fear of reporting abuse
Elder Abuse Takes Many Forms
Elder abuse is not just physical assaults and bodily injury. While physical abuse is a prevalent type of abuse, there is much more to elder abuse than one might imagine.
Elder abuse can be active physical abuse such as hitting, slapping, or spitting or it can be passive such as refusing medical treatment for wounds or even allowing bed sores to occur. Allowing other residents in a nursing home to abuse a resident is also elder abuse.
In additional to the physical trauma, injured victims may sustain psychological trauma. Physical abuse may cause an elder to become withdrawn or depressed.
Verbal abuse is another serious type of elder abuse that involves:
- Threats or bullying
Emotional abuse also includes isolating, ignoring, or humiliating an elder.
Sexual abuse is an extreme form of physical abuse that may include photographing an elder in states of undress, forcing the elder to perform sexual acts with a caregiver or another resident, or exposing an elder to sexually explicit material without their consent.
This lesser discussed type of abuse occurs when a caretaker coerces or threatens an elder to alter his or her finances for the caregiver’s benefit. This form of abuse can manifest as a nursing home employee convincing an elder to add her as a beneficiary in their will, using an elder to co-sign on financial documents without his or her knowledge, or borrowing large sums of money without his or her consent.
Identifying Elder Abuse
The signs of elder abuse are not always obvious. Devious caretakers may explain bruises and cuts as results of natural accidents like falls. Elders with cognitive complications may be unable or unwilling to speak about the abuse.
When visiting an elder in another’s care, look for changes in his or her behavior or physical state. Question caretakers about any unusual physical signs like bruises, poor hygiene, or new or worsening health conditions. If you notice the elder was happy and engaging the last time you visited and is now reclusive and distant, it can be a sign of abuse.
Also watch the interactions between your loved one and the caregiver. Does your loved one seem nervous or angry? If so, this can be a sign of abuse.
Keep watch over your elder’s finances; ask him if he is aware of any significant changes. If he has made these changes, make sure he understands what he is doing and ensure he is doing it of his free will.
What You Can Do To Stop Elder Abuse
There are several federal and state laws for the purpose of protecting elder Americans. The Federal Elder Justice Act facilitates local programs and ombudsmen to investigate and take action on suspected elder abuse. The Older Americans Act includes provisions to protect the rights of older Americans against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Locally in New York, the Bureau of Adult Services oversees the Protective Services for Adults program and investigates elder abuse situations. Your local Long Term Care Ombudsman can also be of service for investigating and addressing elder abuse or neglect situations.
You have a right to seek legal help before or after verifying elder abuse. If you have a confirmed report, you may file a claim seeking damages from the liable party. If you suspect elder abuse, our attorneys can provide guidance and resources to confirm abuse or neglect and take the appropriate corrective and compensatory actions.
Buttafuoco & Associates cares about the welfare of our New York elders as if they were our own parents. Contact us at 1-800-NOW-HURT so we get can to work protecting your loved one.