Placing an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can be a heart-wrenching decision. Millions of families each year have to consider placing a parent or grandparent in a facility where their medical needs and day-to-day living needs can be met. We would like to think that the people with whom we entrust their care will provide the same standard of care we gave, but, sadly, that is often not the case. In fact, nursing home abuse and neglect is becoming an epidemic in the United States, and what is taking place in these homes is despicable.
In fact, just recently, two teenage employees of a nursing facility in Minnesota were charged with abusing the elderly patients for whom they cared. These girls spit on the patients, poked them, mocked them and even touched their genitals. While this example is egregious, various forms of elder abuse are taking place across the country, and thousands of elderly patients are being neglected every day.
Each year in the United States, an estimated 2.1 million seniors are the victims of some form of abuse. What is even more shocking is that for every case of nursing home abuse and neglect that is reported, there may be as many as five more cases that go unreported. Research suggests that abused elders tend to die earlier than seniors who are well cared for, even in the absence of life-threatening and chronic conditions.
Types of Elder Abuse
While physical abuse is the most prevalent type of elder abuse, senior citizens are also suffering emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
Some of the more common signs of physical abuse of the elderly are:
- Unexplained bruises and cuts
- Torn or bloody clothing
- Broken bones
Emotional abuse of the elderly may include:
- Intimidation through yelling and threats
- Ignoring the patient
- Isolating the patient from other residents and/or activities
- Terrorizing the patient
- Mocking the patient
If your elderly loved one has been neglected, you may notice:
- Medications not being administered or administered improperly
- Soiled clothing or bed linens
- Unsanitary living conditions
If your elderly loved one has been abused in a sexual nature, he or she may suffer from or show:
- Bleeding around the genital or anal area
- Venereal disease
- Bloody undergarments
- Bruises around the breast/genital region
Sexually abused senior citizens may be forced to watch pornographic material or have their photos taken against their will. Some elders are forced to undress or made to watch sex acts performed by their caretakers.
Financial exploitation is actually the most common form of non-physical abuse of the elderly. An unscrupulous caregiver may:
- Misuse the elder’s checks, accounts, or credit cards
- Steal money, steal checks, or steal belongings
- Forge signatures
- Authorize withdrawals or transfer of monies
- Steal the patient’s identity
Some of the more common rackets to swindle elders out of their money are announcing they have won a "prize,” phony charities and shady investment opportunities.