According to researchers at the University of Oregon, the average age of death in 1850 was just under 40 years old. In 1910, after the transformative changes of the Industrial Revolution had taken hold, life expectancy had reached 51. By 1950, it had sky-rocketed, to 68 years of age. And for the past fifteen years, since 2000, life expectancy has hovered around 79.
The aging revolution is here. The Administration for Community Living reports that around one in every eight Americans currently living is over the age of 65. And with so many of our loved ones reaching ripe old ages, we’ve turned as a society to the care of third-party professionals: nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The Most Common Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse
But the facts of aging have not changed. Seniors are still vulnerable members of the community. Many of our elderly loved ones cannot perform essential tasks on their own, which makes finding compassionate care professionals that you can trust a huge priority.
Tragically, this trust can be broken. Elder mistreatment has reached epidemic proportions throughout America. A large research study that focused solely on New York State uncovered a startling reality. Almost 10% of all elder NY residents had experienced abuse in a given year, but that study did not include financial forms of exploitation. The mistreatment rate was highest in New York City.
It may not be hyperbole to say that nursing home abuse is common. Which means that we all need to be vigilant. As friends, family and neighbors – we need to know the signs of elder abuse, and report mistreatment immediately when necessary. Here’s what to watch for:
Physical Signs Of Elder Abuse
In long-term care facilites, elder mistreatment involves physical abuse more often than any other form of wrongdoing. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), 29% of all reported complaints involved direct, physical harm. Common warning signs include:
- Unexplained bruises
- Black eyes
- Puncture wounds
- Injuries that have been left untreated
- Signs of being physically restrained, like rope marks
- Broken eyeglasses
- Unexplained weight loss
Emotional Signs Of Nursing Home Abuse
While physical signs of bodily harm may be most apparent, many forms of abuse leave deep, psychological scars, as well. Unfortunately, emotional warning signs often overlap with normal aspects of the aging process.
Healthy seniors may appear withdrawn, or emotionally distanced, for reasons that have nothing to do with abuse. But these normal changes are often protracted; they occur gradually, over long periods of time. Watch for sudden changes in affect, including:
- Being overly agitated
- Being non-communicative, failing to respond when engaged socially
- Unusual behaviors, like rocking or sucking, which appear to be signs of dementia
Signs Of Financial Exploitation
Defined by the NCEA as “the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets,” financial elder exploitation is surprisingly common. And while it’s most often committed by adult children or at-home caregivers, it is possible for nursing home staff to steal valuable items or gain access to a senior’s bank account.
- If you can, review your loved one’s financial statements for unexplained withdrawals.
- Become well-acquainted with your loved one’s possessions, so you notice if they go missing.
- If possible, review their will so you can notice abrupt, unexplained changes.
- Ensure that your loved one’s level of care seems fair, given their financial resources. In some instances, at-home health aides will charge a senior for undelivered services.
Self-Reported Instances Of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is severely under-reported. The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that for every case of elder abuse that was properly reported to governmental authorities, 24 went unreported.
This may be a tragic consequence of elder abuse’s very nature. Seniors often rely on their abusers for necessary services, making many elderly victims unwilling to report their mistreatment. Moreover, seniors often feel intimidated into silence, fearing further abuse if they speak out.
One thing is clear: if your loved one complains of mistreatment, report it immediately.
Contact A Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer In New York City
Between 1991 and 2001, one in every three US nursing homes were cited for violating federal regulations. All of these infractions had the potential to cause elderly residents direct harm. And, according to the US House of Representatives, one out of ten did. 10% of all nursing homes violated standards and caused patients serious injury.
If you’ve noticed any signs of abuse, it’s important to act immediately. Contact the experienced nursing home abuse lawyers at Banville Law today. In a free consultation, we’ll review your case and explain your legal options in clear terms. Our services are free until we win your case. Call (917) 551-6690 or fill out our contact form. You’ll speak with a dedicated elder mistreatment attorney within 24 hours.