Elder Physical Abuse
Physical abuse occurs when an elder is assaulted, injured, caused physical pain, improperly restrained, or threatened with a weapon. More specific acts include but are not limited to striking without or without an object, pushing, shoving, shaking, pinching, burning, and slapping. The inappropriate use of prescription drugs as well as force-feeding or forced starvation while in the care of a nursing home or care facility are also common examples of physical maltreatment. It can be difficult to imagine why any caregiver would resort to such heinous acts. Tragically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, hundreds of thousands of senior citizens are abused every year. Countless others are harmed or impaired but are unwilling or unable to report the incidents.
Signs and Symptoms of Elder Physical Abuse
Elder abuse presents certain difficulties as a result of the age of the victims. Since the residents of nursing home or assisted living facilities may be disabled or unable to communicate normally with loved ones, it is thought that a shocking 1 out of 6 instances of abuse actually go unreported. For the family members of elderly patients, it can also be a challenge to tell the difference between certain forms of self-neglect that occur with again and actual maltreatment.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of elder physical abuse include:
- Sudden behavioral or personality changes
- The presence of medication overdoses or underutilization
- Sprains, internal injuries, bleeding, contusions
- Abrasion marks, restraint marks, lacerations, welts
- Evasive or obstructive behavior by caregivers
- Refusal of caregivers to allow patients to be visited alone
Preventing Elder Physical Abuse
Many in the public health sector refer to elder abuse as an “invisible epidemic.” The single most effective way for family members or guardians to prevent elder maltreatment is to visit relatives in nursing home or care facilities as often as possible. Upon visiting a facility, keep an eye out for unacceptable or unhealthy conditions within the facility. When visiting with a loved one, try to meet with them alone and talk to them, ask lots of questions, and most importantly listen to them. It can be very difficult for victims to report abuse out of misplaced feelings of shame or guilt. Also, if you can, try to monitor the medications your elder has been placed on, and check to see if they’re receiving the correct dosages. Finally, empower and encourage your elder to speak up when they don’t feel well or aren’t being treated well. That way, if they ever do suffer some form of abuse, they will be primed to report it to you before it gets out of control.
Pennsylvania & New Jersey Nursing Home Lawyers
No matter how vigilant we are, we cannot watch our loved ones all the time. For those with an elder who has already suffered physical abuse while under the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact us immediately to learn about your legal rights. You can reach our team of elder abuse attorneys toll-free at 1-855-462-3330or by using our online contact form.