Elder Abuse: What to Do if Your Loved One Is a Victim

Elder Abuse: What to Do if Your Loved One Is a Victim

You may have noticed unexplained injuries or behavioral changes with your loved one. Or, it may just be a feeling that something is not right. But if you suspect your loved one is suffering from abuse, we urge you to take action right away.

The most important thing to know about elder abuse is that even if your family member may not be able to articulate the harm that has happened, you can still pursue an investigation and get answers. We can help with that. Contact Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers if you suspect your elderly loved one is suffering from abuse. During your free, no-obligation consultation, we will confidentially discuss the situation and explain the next steps.

Signs of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse comes in many forms. In general, the term refers to an act that willfully, knowingly, or recklessly causes harm to an elderly person. Abuse can be verbal, sexual, psychological, or physical.

Unfortunately, medication, diseases and illness can sometimes make it difficult to detect the warning signs of abuse. Below is a breakdown of the different types of abuse and what you may notice if it’s happening to your loved one.

Physical & Sexual Abuse

Physical abuse is willfully inflicting pain or injury to another person. Some of the signs include:

  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, scrapes, welts, or scars.
  • Drug overdose or failure to take medication appropriately.
  • Broken eyeglasses or frames.
  • A caregiver’s refusal to allow you to be alone with your loved one.

Sexual abuse is another form of physical abuse. It refers to the force or coercion into unwanted sexual activity. The signs of sexual abuse among the elderly include bruises, bleeding, or injuries around the genitals and breasts or unexplained venereal disease or genital infections. You might also notice torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is causing someone to suffer from mental or emotional distress. Emotionally abusive actions include any kind of humiliating, intimidating, threatening or belittling behavior.

An elderly person who is suffering from any kind of abuse may show signs that mimic dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling. Your loved one may also be distressed or fearful to talk to you. Any change in behavior, no matter how minor, could be pointing to abuse.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse refers to the improper act of using a person’s resources for someone else’s benefit without their consent. The signs include:

  • Large withdrawals or purchases from the resident’s accounts.
  • Sudden, unexpected changes in the resident’s financial condition.
  • Cash and/or items missing from the resident’s household.
  • Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies.
  • Addition of names to the resident’s signature card.

Your loved one may have no idea that a caregiver is stealing money from them. However, as his or her advocate, you can be their voice, ensure the financial abuse stops, and seek legal recourse. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss what to do.

How to Report Abuse

If your relative is a victim of abuse at a nursing home facility or under someone else’s care, report the matter to Adult Protective Services and the police. Each state has its own Adult Protective Services department. The Adult Protective Services department is the first agency to respond to a report of elderly abuse. Its role is to investigate abuse cases, intervene, and offer services and advice. The local police can also address elder abuse that occurs in the community or in the elder’s apartment or home. If you are unsure where to report a case of elder abuse, give us a call for assistance.

Taking Legal Action

If your elder relative is a victim of abuse or neglect, you may be able to take legal action against the facility responsible for caring for them. Contact Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will confidentially discuss what you suspect is happening and explain the next steps toward getting answers, ending the abuse, and seeking justice.