In our twilight years, we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
We deserve to be safe from abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, sometimes nursing home residents aren’t. Some suffer serious or fatal injuries from abuse and neglect.
"Elder abuse is extremely common, especially in nursing homes. As adults age, they become more likely to experience abuse. The rates of abuse are higher for older individuals living in nursing homes or other care facilities." (nanha.org)
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse is defined as: "any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult."
"Elder abuse, including neglect and exploitation, is experienced by 1 out of every 10 people, ages 60 and older, who live at home. This statistic is likely an underestimate because many victims are unable or afraid to disclose or report the violence." - CDC National Institute on Aging, 2017
In Iowa and Wisconsin, adults 65 and older make up an estimated 17.5% of the population. In Minnesota, the senior population drops to 16.3%.
Using the CDC's estimates for elder abuse, more than...
- 55,214 Iowans
- 91,926 Minnesotans
- and 101,893 Wisonsonites
...are victims of elder abuse each year. High rates of elder abuse may be due to its inherently covert nature.
Many seniors are unable to advocate for themselves in the event of abuse or are unaware that it is happening altogether. Knowing what to look for when meeting and caring for seniors can make you a life-saving advocate for a vulnerable population.
Warning signs of elder abuse and neglect
- Acts agitated or violent
- Becomes suddenly or uncharacteristically withdrawn
- Stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys
- Has unexplained bruises, burns, or scars
- Seems depressed or confused
- Unexplained weight loss
- Displays signs of trauma, like shaking or rocking back and forth
- Looks messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes
Common types of elder abuse
Physical abuse happens when someone causes bodily harm by hitting, pushing, or slapping.
Emotional abuse or psychological abuse can include a caregiver saying hurtful words, yelling, threatening, or repeatedly ignoring the elder. Keeping the elder from seeing close friends and relatives is another common form of emotional abuse.
Sexual abuse involves a caregiver forcing an elder to watch or be part of sexual acts without their explicit verbal consent.
Neglect occurs when the caregiver does not respond to the elder's needs.
Abandonment occurs when a caregiver leaves the elder alone for extended lengths of time without planning for their care.
Financial abuse & exploitation happens when money or belongings are stolen. This can include forging checks, taking someone else's retirement or social security benefits, or using the elder's credit cards and bank accounts.
Healthcare fraud can be committed by doctors, hospital staff, and other medical professionals. This includes overcharging, billing twice for the same service, falsifying Medicaid or Medicare claims, or charging for medications/services that were not provided.
In May 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared June 15-19 Elder Abuse Awareness Week.
June 15th is International Elder Abuse Awareness Day!
If you suspect elder abuse
If you suspect that elder abuse is taking place, do not wait for your suspicions to grow! You can report concerning circumstances to the police, or to Adult Protective Services. Elder abuse can be deadly it goes unreported. For seniors with mental and physical disabilities, it can be nearly impossible to stand up to abusive care providers.
If you are unsure about a situation, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse to learn more about what may or may or may not be considered abuse. (www.ncea.acl.gov )
If your loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, The Biker Lawyers are here to help. We’ll take the steps necessary to protect your loved ones in their twilight years, and give them the assistance they need.
It all starts with us hearing your story. Let's start the conversation today.