Elderly Abuse: Recognizing the Signs and What to Do Immediately

With every birthday you celebrate, it just makes the fact that you’re getting older become a reality that everyone else around you is getting older too. One of the hardest realities to face is that your parents are getting older as well… it can be a tough pill to swallow. The very people who raised you and took care of you when you were growing up are now needing you to do the same for them now that they’re getting older.

Just as it’s hard for you to believe that you’re parents are needing more and more help to get around their home, they’re also in a state of denial and will sometimes turn down offers of help. With most seniors who need help at home, they’ll be more open to considering in-home health care because that will allow them to “age in place” but not all seniors want that… they have it in their mind that they are perfectly fine and don’t need any help. 

As the child of an aging parent, it can break your heart to see your parents becoming less and less independent but when your parents start to suffer from injuries at home due to not being able to do certain everyday things, you’ll have to make that tough decision to place them in a nursing home. In the mind of a senior, the nursing home is pretty much the place they go to, to die, and that’s not the case at all… in your mind, you feel like you’re doing right by them by placing them in 24-hour care.

By placing your parents in a nursing home, your expectation is that they’re going to be well taken care of but all too often there have been several cases of nursing home abuse. The thing about elderly abuse is that it’s not just physical abuse… elder abuse can come in many different forms. According to the National Council on Aging, one in ten elderly Americans experience elder abuse… the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that only one in 14 abuse cases get reported to authorities. 

The only way to stop elder abuse is to know the types of elder abuse and to recognize the signs associated with the abuse type. Take a look at the most common types of elderly abuse so that you can know the next steps to take in the event of elderly abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is seen far too often in nursing homes. Physical abuse is a physical force that causes bodily injury, pain, or impairment. Physical abuse can be anything from pushing and shoving to pinching or thumping. 

Recognizing the Signs

  • Bruises
  • Broken bones
  • Dislocations
  • An elder reporting to staff or family members of being hit or mistreated

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is non-consensual, period. If any member of the nursing home staff engages in sexual intercourse or any sexual act with a resident non-consensually, it is considered abuse. Rape, taking sexual photographs of the resident, and unsolicited touching are all forms of sexual abuse. Sexually abusing an elderly person when they are incapable of giving consent is rape in every facet.

Recognizing the Signs

  • Bruising in the genital area and on or near breasts
  • Torn undergarments
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • An elder reporting to staff or family members of being sexually abused

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

This type of abuse is an abuse of the mind. There is no actual physical contact with the resident… this type of abuse is all about projecting anger and frustrations by what you say and don’t say (verbal and non-verbal acts). Types of emotional and psychological abuse include: intimidation, threats, verbal accusations, and humiliation. Keeping the resident from seeing their friends and family as well as treating them like children is a form of abuse.

Recognizing the Signs

  • Being withdrawn
  • Unusual behavior
  • Frequently being upset or irritated
  • An elder reporting to staff or family members of being sexually abused

Taking Action

If you recognize signs of abuse in your loved one, the first thing you need to do is report the abuse and get in contact with a nursing home abuse lawyer. You want to speak with a firm that has extensive experience in that particular area. There is a Chicago nursing home abuse law firm off of West Washington Street that has a whole team dedicated to this particular type of situation.

Wherever you may be, city or state, the most important thing is to not only recognize the signs of abuse but to also take legal action. If you see abuse being done to an elderly person and fail to report it, you’re just as bad as the actual abuser. Contact your local ombudsman to report abuse.