Elder abuse is a serious problem across the United States. Nursing homes and other settings in which an elderly patient is supposed to be cared for are often the site of painful physical and emotional abuse. Elders who have contributed to their communities for their whole lives should be treated with respect when they turn to nurses and caretakers for help because they are no longer able to care for themselves. Anyone who is the victim of elder abuse or has a loved one who has been abused in a nursing home should consult a legal professional for help. Elder abuse victims are often entitled to compensation for medical bills resulting from injuries sustained during abuse, whether that abuse be physical or mental. Compensation for pain and suffering may also be available – every case is unique.
Elder Abuse By the Numbers
The population of people over the age of 65 has been steadily growing in the U.S. Approximately 13 percent of the population of the U.S. was in this age demographic as of 2010. It is estimated that one out of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older by the year 2050, and nearly 20 million people will be age 85 and over by 2050.
More people than ever are requiring long-term assistance due to age. Unfortunately, the growth of elder care in the U.S. has also lead to a growth in the occurrence of elder abuse.
Elder abuse occurs when a caregiver intentionally causes harm to happen to an elderly person. The harm itself may not have been intended, but elder abuse occurs if an elderly person is harmed as a direct result of intentional actions. For example, a caretaker who intentionally fails to assist an elderly patient climb a flight of stairs will be liable for any injuries that occur due to their negligence.
Many instances of elder abuse do not go reported. This is because the elderly person may be unable to relay information about the abuse. Statistics show that female elderly people are more likely to become victims of elder abuse than males.
Family members and friends of the elderly are urged to learn how to look for signs of abuse. Elderly people are often unwilling to report abuse whether or not they are able to communicate. Approximately 90 percent of abusers are family members, and elderly people may not want their family members to get in trouble for abuse. Studies have found that as many as 13 out of every 14 cases of elder abuse are not reported.
Family members who are struggling with substance abuse, mental illness and extreme levels of stress may neglect an elderly loved one. Adult children and spouses are the most likely family members to abuse elderly people.
An alarming 95 percent of people who reside in a nursing home have reported being neglected at some point during their stay. Nearly half of nursing home residents report having been abused. State surveys of long-term care facilities often miss reports of abuse.
Elder abuse is a serious risk to the health of an elderly person. Elderly people who have suffered from abuse are 300 percent more likely to suffer from a fatal injury or illness than people who are not abused. Serious illnesses and injuries that stem from elder abuse can reduce the quality of life of an elderly person.
Abuse can occur in the personal residence of an elderly person, in the home of a caretaker or in a nursing home. Elder abuse is the cause of $5.3 billion worth of medical care every year, and exploitation of the elderly leads to financial losses topping $2.9 billion per year.
Getting Help With Elder Abuse
It is heartbreaking to know that your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse. Family members often feel guilt when they put their elderly relatives in the care of a nursing home, and learning that your loved one was abused while in a nursing home can be devastating. The first step after learning your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse is to stop blaming yourself and contact an attorney. We are available to help your loved one collect the compensation that they need and deserve.