Elderly individuals are especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect, because, as they age, they become more and more dependent on others for attending to their financial affairs, for physical care, and for general healthcare needs. This vulnerability tends to increase if the individual in question is facing physical, mental, and emotional impairments that undermine the individual’s functioning.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, abuse and neglect of the elderly tends to come in seven general forms, as follows:
1. Physical abuse: this, unfortunately, requires little explanation, as the person in a position of trust physically harms the elderly individual, often causing serious physical injuries or, in extreme cases, death.
2. Emotional abuse: verbal and other acts of harassment, ridicule, scorn or other acts that are intended to demean and belittle the elderly individual, often resulting in mental and emotional anguish.
3. Sexual abuse: this includes any sexual activity that is unconsented or is presented in a way to overcome the individual’s free will.
4. Financial exploitation: these cases, where a caregiver asserts control over an individual’s finances or otherwise misappropriates finances or other property from the elderly individual, seem to be especially prevalent. With these cases, the elderly individual may be coerced or tricked into parting with their property or the purported caregiver may secretly steal the elderly individual’s property.
5. Neglect: this occurs when a caregiver who is responsible for providing medical and other physical services to the elderly individual fails to fulfill their obligations, thereby causing injuries and other harms that were otherwise preventable through the use of good care. These cases typically arise in nursing homes or assisted living care facilities, where the patients are completely dependent on the care provided by staff members.
6. Abandonment: these are extreme cases of neglect, where one who has a duty of providing care to an elderly individual violates their duty to provide care and cause a variety of injuries to the injured individual.
7. Self-neglect: this occurs when an elderly individual fails to appreciate their own limitations and needs, resulting in injuries.
Despite increased attention given to elder abuse and neglect, it appears that the increased awareness and attention has not caused these issues to decrease. In fact, it appears that many of these issues continue to occur across Virginia and the rest of the country. If you have a loved one who you suspect may be the victim of elder abuse or neglect, it is important that you take immediate and decisive action to provide the attention and care that is needed, including calling an attorney experienced in elder abuse and neglect matters.
Kirk D. Becchi, the author of this post, is an attorney in the Harrisonburg, Virginia office of MartinWren, P.C., where he represents elderly individuals throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Virginia Nursing Home Neglect Attorney and in Elder Abuse matters. Kirk is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia and Maryland, and he also practices as a member of MartinWren’s Charlottesville Personal Injury Lawyers group, as a Harrisonburg Truck Accident Lawyer, and as a Harrisonburg Automobile Accident Lawyer. To discuss Elder Abuse or Nursing Home Neglect matters with Kirk, please call him at 540-437-0001 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.