Abuse can affect anyone of any age. But there are an exceptional number of cases of elder women being abused in the United States. This vulnerable demographic can be helped if others know how to recognize the signs of elder abuse and how to bring an end to it. It is often to ensure the safety of an elder in your life by notifying a personal injury attorney who can help you file a claim to hold an abusive individual responsible for actions against the victim.
There are five primary types of elder abuse. These are physical, sexual, psychological, financial and neglect. One case may involve multiple forms of abuse. For example, someone physically victimizing an elderly person may also be taking money from her purse or neglecting to feed her often enough.
Physical abuse of elders is like that of any age group. These cases involve an abuser who either physically hurts or threatens to hurt another person. Methods of physical abuse can include:
Restraint of an individual may be used legitimately to protect an individual from harm, such as when they are aggressive, violent, running away or hurting themselves. This form of physical abuse crosses the line when the confinement is against the individual’s will and not properly done for the individual’s safety. There have been many cases of elderly women and other people tied to their beds, handcuffed to posts, or locked in rooms. These are often incidences of abusive restraint.
Other forms of physical abuse may be against the person’s property, such as throwing and breaking things. These actions can be used to intimidate and frighten the elderly woman and may be coupled with other forms of abuse. Physical abuse is often characterized by things like refusal of prescribed medication and breaking of glasses, so the victim cannot see.
Physical abuse may be visible through unexplained bruising, frequent claims of falling and apparent fear of the victim when one particular individual or a group of people are nearby. There are often personality changes that accompany physical abuse, such as a change toward being withdrawn and sullen.
Sexual abuse of an elderly woman includes unwanted sexual contact from an abuser, possibly including acts like assault or rape. Because elderly people often suffer from some form of immobility or incapacitation, they are often unable to legally consent to sexual interaction.
Sexual abuse may be evidenced through unexpected bleeding, blood in undergarments and presence of sexually transmitted infections that did not previously appear. Sexual abuse may also involve the abuser performing sex acts in front of the victim, with or without any physical touch. In the past, there have also been cases in which an elderly, incapacitated victim was exposed to pornographic video for hours at a time on a television when they could not remove themselves from the room.
Psychological abuse involves emotional and mental abusive actions intended to control the victim. This may include:
This form of elder abuse is often characterized through the victim’s dislike of an individual, unwillingness to be around the abuser, withdrawn behavior, clinginess or strong desire to have others around more often and other such actions.
Elder women are often targeted as part of financial scams or abuse. This type of abusive action includes:
Financial abuse of an elderly woman is also often tied to other forms of abuse, whether physical, sexual, neglect or psychological. The elderly victim may be aware they are being victimized, or may not know at all. When they are aware, they are often intimidated into silence.
Neglect involves actions of not providing adequate care for the elderly victim. Examples include:
Evidence of neglect may include uncomfortable or dirty living environment conditions, weight loss, bed sores, frequent illnesses and other signs.
Abuse or neglect may be characterized as provided above or there may be other indications of inadequate or abusive actions. Abusers are often charismatic or may try to mislead the family of the elderly individual’s condition or needs. Victims are often isolated from family or friends by their abusers, so these people will not know what is going on. Access to an elderly relative, neighbor or friend may be denied by an abusive party, whether access is in person, by phone, email or regular postal mail.
The family of a victim may realize that the abusive individual is taking up a significant amount of the victim’s time, around more often than needed, taking responsibility for more of the elderly person’s life than they should be, or excluding others. Abusers often start speaking for the elderly person, answering questions and handling matters the victim should maintain a “voice” in, such as at the bank or in other decision-making.
The elderly are unfortunately often victims of others who target them or should not be responsible for their care. Elderly women in particular are often targeted due to vulnerability to highly skilled perpetrators. Abusers may include caregivers, family, friends or even complete strangers. When families suspect there may be some abuse occurring, they should immediately report these suspicions. A personal injury lawyer can help investigate the matter and pursue a claim from the abuser and associated parties who are at fault, providing relief and financial compensation for the victim’s suffering.
If you suspect elder abuse is occurring in the life of someone you love, or if you are being victimized, call the Law Offices of Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law now at 602.254.2701 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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