The West Virginia government has taken steps to battle elder abuse, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice. WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has created a new litigation and prevention unit, which will be added to the Federal Government’s Elder Justice Initiative, a set of resources available to those in need of help battling elder abuse.
This new legislation will enable the Elder Justice Initiative to refer calls from West Virginia directly to the state Attorney General, which will improve protections to senior citizens across the state.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a major problem across the nation. When you put a loved one in a nursing home, you’re entrusting their entire well-being to strangers. That’s stressful enough, but when that trust is betrayed it can bring your entire world crashing down. Unfortunately, elder abuse is very real and happens all too often.
Elder abuse can be physical, in terms of shaking, slapping, striking, burning or other injuries. In some case it takes the form of attacks by caregivers or other residents of care homes. Other times it occurs from the excessive use of physical restraints, forced feeding, drugging and the like. False arrest is another means of physical abuse, when someone is held against their will.
Senior citizens tend to be more prone to injury than younger people, which means they have to be treated more gently. Even an overly tight grip on a senior’s arm can result in bruises. This can still constitute abuse when done by those who should know better.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Elder abuse also be emotional and psychological. Sometimes overworked, careless or malicious caretakers insult, belittle, intimidate, threaten or insult seniors to break down their self-image and exploit them or to exercise power over them.
Other forms of emotional abuse include giving seniors the silent treatment, and isolating them from friends and family. Sometimes this occurs as a byproduct of physical abuse.
Though we don’t like to think about it, sexual abuse of elders often happens as well. Any non-consensual sexual contact, including contact with a senior who cannot give consent or can’t fully understand what is happening, is sexual abuse. This includes unwanted touching, forced nudity, rape, molestation and other types of sexual assault.
Neglect and Abandonment
Most often, however, elder abuse takes the form of neglect. Medicines aren’t given on schedule, elders are left dirty and malnourished, and otherwise see their needs ignored. When caregivers don’t fulfill their duty to provide adequate care, whether actively doing so or simply not being able to live up to their responsibilities, neglect occurs.
Neglect can also be self-inflicted when an elderly person fails to keep up their own food, water, medicine, hygiene or other necessities. When neglect is self-inflicted, it’s used as evidence to refer elders to adult protective services agencies.
Closely related to neglect is abandonment, when a caretaker leaves the senior to fend for themselves when they are not able to do so. This can involve abandoning them at home or leaving them in public somewhere.
Often, other means of abuse are a road towards financial exploitation, though this can be an end unto itself. Whenever someone engages in fraud or cons the elder person, stealing their money or using them for material gain, this is financial exploitation. It can involve theft, forged signatures, tricking the elder into signing powers of attorney or guardianship, and any variety of other dishonest acts.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The signs of nursing home abuse can be difficult to spot, and many people choose not to see them because the idea of your loved one being abused is very uncomfortable to consider. Keep an eye out for your senior parent acting differently. If they exhibit aggression, if they become skittish or withdrawn, or seem afraid to be left alone, these can be red flags.
In addition, if the staff tries to keep you from being alone with your loved one, this is a sign of trouble. Naturally, any time you notice physical injuries like cuts, bruises, bedsores and the like, this is a major sign of trouble.
When You Need a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home abuse is a major problem. If you suspect your loved one is being abused, contact a Nursing home abuse lawyer like Stewart Bell Injury Lawyers. We are the nursing home negligence lawyer services you can count on. Give us a call for a free consultation today.