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We have been litigating elder abuse cases for years and the number of new calls seems to rise by the day. According to the World Health Organization, “elder abuse is a violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productivity, isolation and despair”.  Although estimates vary, it is generally believed that 4-6% of the elderly are abused.  Elder abuse is the mistreatment of an older person, usually by a caregiver.  It can happen within the family and it can also happen in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.    The mistreatment may be:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Psychological abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect

The great majority of abusers are family members, most often an adult child or spouse.  At long term care facilities, employees who have direct contact with residents are the most frequent abusers.  Elder abuse can happen to anyone.

Following are some of the warning signs of elder abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises, burns and injuries
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Agitation and depression
  • Bed sores and poor hygiene
  • Weight loss
  • Change in financial situation – altered wills and trusts

If you suspect elder abuse, you should call the police or adult protective services.  You do not need to prove abuse in order to make a report.  Speak up if you have concerns.  Elder abuse will not stop on its own.  Remember, our elderly deserve dignity and respect.

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