The Illinois elder abuse attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of senior citizens across the state amid a growing epidemic of abuse. This abuse often comes at the hands of people who are closest to the victim and is not merely limited to incidents that occur due to negligent nursing home care. If you have reason to suspect that anyone at all is taking advantage of someone that you hold dear, it is important to look more closely into the matter so that the abuse can come to an end. The following statistics are alarming and reveal just how commonplace the mistreatment of the elderly has become in our society.
Forms of Elder Abuse
Most people immediately think about nursing homes when the topic of elder abuse is raised and while negligent nursing care is a serious concern in recent years, many abusers also come from within victims’ families and close circles of friends. To determine whether an act can be classified as elder abuse, you can refer to the definition provided by the U.S Administration on Aging; which defines it as any intentional or negligent action taken against a vulnerable senior citizen that results in physical, financial or emotional harm. Elder abuse can come in many different forms, but can generally fit into one or more of the following categories.
- Neglect or Abandonment— this form of abuse occurs when a caregiver or family member fails to respond to the needs of the victim or leaves him or her without supervision or a plan of treatment. This is common in nursing homes that operate with inadequate staff levels but can also occur within the confines of a victim’s home if he or she is being taken care of by a family member.
- Financial Exploitation— family members, caregivers and strangers may target a victim with the intention of stealing money or controlling the victim’s finances. If the victim suffers from dementia or a neurological disorder, he or she may be easily manipulated into meeting the perpetrator’s demands for money or financial favors. Schemes can include stealing the victim’s social security checks, forging checks or financial documents, amending the policy holders on a life insurance policy, changing the title on the victim’s home, amending the victim’s will or stealing his or her identity.
- Psychological Abuse— this occurs when a caregiver insults the victim, issues threats, ignores his or her requests or controls his or her social life. The abuser often discourages the victim from seeing his or her friends and relatives and may even use threats to separate him or her from those people. Those who are close to victims of psychological abuse often notice a sudden and marked change in his or her behavior and the victim may remain quiet in the presence of the abuser out of fear.
- Sexual Abuse— this form of abuse includes forcing the victim to witness sexual acts and any form of sexual assault. The perpetrator may be a caregiver, another resident at a nursing facility or a stranger that is visiting the nursing center.
- Physical Abuse— abusers often turn to physical abuse when the victim doesn’t respond to other methods of intimidation or threats. The victim may be restrained and abandoned for long periods of time or directly assaulted by the offender. If you ever notice bruises or marks on your loved one’s body, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation regardless of the explanation that is offered by his or her caregiver.
Anyone Can Commit Elder Abuse
In the United States, there are over 2.1 million instances of elder abuse every year. Our Illinois elder abuse lawyers have provided the statistics below to help raise awareness to the issue and help families detect abuse early so that they can take appropriate measures to protect those who they care for. It is truly alarming to think that a family member or caregiver could be capable of abusing a loved one, but the data reveals just how close victims tend to be with their abusers.
- 36% of nursing homes have been held in violation of elderly abuse ordinances.
- Over 90% of nursing homes lack the amount of staff necessary to tend to the needs of every patient residing in their facilities. This is attributed to the flood of for profit businesses over the last decade into the nursing care market. In order to reduce overhead, these businesses keep staff levels at bare minimum levels and the patients suffer as a result.
- 58.5% of all elderly abuse cases involve some form of neglect or abandonment. Neglect is the most common form of abuse and can be directly linked to the inability of depleted nursing home staffs to tend to patients’ needs.
- Physical assault is the second most common form of abuse. Roughly 15.7% of cases involve assault or physical restraint.
- Nearly 12.3% of cases involve financial exploitation and this number is steadily rising. As technology continues to become more advanced, so do the methods in which perpetrators can get hold of sensitive financial information and commit fraud.
- Emotional abuse accounts for about 7.3% of abuse cases. In some instances the emotional abuse is accompanied by other forms of abuse such as financial exploitation, physical assault and sexual abuse.
- To the surprise of many, 66% of elderly abuse offenses are committed by the victim’s grown children or spouses. While nursing homes are culpable for their inability to provide adequate treatment, it is often the people that are closest to the victim that are more likely to take advantage.
- About 42% of elderly murder victims are killed by their own children. The motivation is often financial and those involved may attempt to change the victim’s will, life insurance beneficiaries and titles in order to benefit from the victim’s death prior to the murder.
- 24% of elderly murder victims are murdered by their own spouses. This goes to show that even the person closest to the victim can be capable of committing abuse or murder.
- Women are more likely to become victims of abuse than men. About two thirds of victims are women and the median age of victims is 78 years of age.
- 9.5% of the elderly population will experience some form of elder abuse.
How to Detect and Respond to Elder Abuse
The refusal to believe that a close family member could be capable of assaulting, exploiting or neglecting one of our loved ones can allow the abuse to continue unabated. If you notice symptoms of abuse, you should seek legal counsel immediately and allow your attorney to conduct an investigation into the source of the abuse or neglect. Some of the clearest signs include the following.
- Your loved one shows symptoms of physical or sexual assault, such as bruises, cuts, scrapes and marks on his or her wrists, ankles or genitals.
- Your loved one withdraws from the activities he or she once enjoyed or stops seeing his or her friends and family members.
- Your loved one becomes quiet in the presence of his or her caregiver.
- Your loved one develops bedsores due to extended periods of neglect.
- You notice that your loved one’s environment is unsanitary or that his or her hygienic needs have gone unmet.
- Your loved one makes an accusation. If he or she suffers from dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other neurological condition, it can be easy to write off these accusations when the caregiver claims that the accusations are the result of the patient’s mental condition. You should conduct an investigation anyway just to make sure that your loved one is not being mistreated.
- There is a sudden change in your loved one’s finances such as an amendment to his or her will or life insurance policy or changes to his or her bank accounts. Following the money will often lead you to the perpetrator when investigating this form of abuse.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is an award winning nursing home negligence law firm that is dedicated to protecting the elderly from those who would cause them harm. If you believe that your loved one is being mistreated or abused, you should act quickly in order to determine whether your suspicions have merit. It is better to conduct an investigation and discover nothing was wrong than to wonder whether your loved one is experiencing ongoing abuse.
Contact us today to arrange a risk free consultation with one of our experienced and knowledgeable Illinois elder abuse attorneys so that we can collect the information we need to look into your case on your behalf. We will answer any questions that you have, help you identify symptoms of potential abuse and review your legal options with you so that you are aware of your rights. We only accept attorneys’ fees when we have recovered compensation on behalf of our clients, so if we are unable to do so for you, our services will be free.