The Alarming Relationship Between Dementia and Elder Abuse

dementia and elder abuseWe hope that our elderly friends and family are treated with the kindness, respect, compassion, and love that all people deserve. However, the reality is far from what we would expect. Millions of elderly adults suffer from some form of elder abuse every year – whether it’s physical, sexual, neglect, or financial. 

Elder abuse, a crime that targets an already vulnerable population, is all too often overlooked – mainly because people are unaware of the signs or risk factors for abuse. Due to their lack of inhibition, diminished social contact, and problems with memory loss, people with dementia are at greater risk for abuse than the general elderly population. 

 

People With Dementia Are at an Increased Risk for Abuse

People with dementia are at risk of abuse that ranges from physical to financial to emotional, or some combination of multiple types. According to Health Affairs, a sexual abuse case study found that 60% of elderly victims suffered from dementia or another type of cognitive impairment. 

In a different study, 20% of primary family caregivers for people with dementia admitted they had neglected their charge in some way. 

These abuse statistics may seem unbelievable, and deep down we would hope they’re not true, but living with abuse is a sad reality for many elderly people living with dementia. They are less likely to advocate for themselves and often unable to communicate to others about the abuse they’re suffering. 

The Center on Elder Abuse extensively reports on the correlation between dementia and abuse and found that:

  • Sixty percent of caregivers for people with dementia had verbally abused their charge at some point 
  • Up to 10% of caregivers admitted they committed some type of physical abuse 

 

It’s alarming to think that the very people that are there to care for people with dementia, and are often paid to do so, are the ones committing the abuse. For this reason, friends, family, and loved ones of elderly dementia patients must be vigilant and aware of the increased potential for abuse. 

 

Risk Factors for Abuse

Certain characteristics and factors can make elderly people with dementia more likely to experience abuse in their lifetime. These risk factors include:

  • Agitated or aggressive behavior that may lead to conflicts with their caregiver 
  • Low levels of cognitive function
  • Self-neglect
  • Physical impairment 

 

There are also risk factors that you can be on the lookout for in caregivers. Whether it’s a family member, paid caretaker, nurse, a friend, or other care provider, it’s crucial that loved ones are aware of the risk factors in potential abusers:

  • Depression
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Poor relationship with the elderly person with dementia

 

If your elderly loved one is in a nursing home or other type of care facility, be aware that high staff turnover, understaffing, and poor management could all lead to an environment that enables abuse. 

Elder abuse is sadly all too common for people with dementia. Families and friends should do everything in their power to protect elderly dementia patients. However, we know that even when a person takes every precaution, abuse is not always 100% preventable. Just know that if you discover abuse or if a loved one discloses it, you have options to prevent the abuse from happening again. 

 

What to Do if You Suspect a Loved One Is Being Abused

There are few things more unimaginable than the thought of an elderly loved one suffering abuse in silence at the hands of someone who is supposed to be a caretaker. If you believe your loved one is being mistreated or abused, you need to remove them as quickly as possible from the situation. 

Elderly people with dementia often have difficulty with their memories, so establishing a viable claim for elder abuse can be complex. However, with the help of an experienced Florida elder abuse lawyer, you can build your case and fight back against the abuser. 

 

Call a Florida Elder Abuse Attorney Today

Our lawyers have helped countless victims and their families recover millions of dollars in damages in elder abuse cases. Elder abuse is a terrible crime that leads to numerous consequences, such as pain and suffering, physical injuries, and long-term recovery expenses. Let us help you recover financial compensation to cover these damages. Holding the abuser accountable can also prevent future victims from suffering the same fate. 

If you’re ready to speak with a skilled elder abuse lawyer, you can call us today at (561) 655-1990 to schedule your risk-free case evaluation. Elder abuse law in Florida can be complicated to navigate. Having an experienced lawyer on your side can ease the burden of investigating the abuse and fighting for justice for your loved one. 

What You Should Know About Theft in Nursing Homes

It’s an ugly fact that Florida nursing home residents aren’t always able to care for or protect themselves or their belongings.

They often lose jewelry, clothing, books, or gifts from visiting relatives. But, just as often, these items are taken from vulnerable victims who don’t know where to turn for help. If your loved one has been a victim of a similar crime, here’s what you should know about theft in nursing homes.

The Theft May Not Be Obvious

Just like elder abuse, West Palm Beach nursing home theft can easily go unnoticed.

You may notice that your father is missing his beloved watch but staff may claim he misplaced it or gifted it to another resident or visitor. However, you may not notice that your father’s checkbook is missing random pages, that his important identification or financial documents are gone, that his credit cards have vanished, or that he never got his stimulus check.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a statement last year that warned of stimulus check theft in nursing homes with residents relying on Medicaid. The statement said the department had received reports of nursing homes requiring residents to wrongfully sign over the money to the facility.

Similar financial elder abuse may appear as suspicious charges, sudden changes in your loved one’s power of attorney, or unusual purchases.

Due to the complexity of theft in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, it’s important that you talk with your loved one about your suspicions. It’s possible that they decided to give away their beloved watch or that they gifted the cash in their wallet to a trio of visiting elementary school children.

But that may not be the case.

If your loved one isn’t able to grasp the allegations or suffers from mental disorders that prevent them from fully understanding the situation, you will need to be their advocate.

You May Be Dissuaded From Making An Official Complaint

Allegations of property theft in nursing homes can uncover business negligence and resident abuse. As such, nursing homes may want to avoid that level of increased scrutiny and try to dissuade you from making any official complaints or alerting police.

They also may say that they aren’t responsible for managing your loved one’s property or for the disappearance of any belongings.

Upon admission to a nursing home, your loved one might have signed documents that limit the facility’s liability when it comes to personal property theft. However, the waiver and the permission may not hold up in court, especially if your loved one was considered not in their right mind at the time of signing.

An experienced West Palm Beach elder abuse attorney will navigate such claims and fight for the safety of your loved one and their belongings.

Note All Inappropriate Behavior

Unfortunate as it is, nursing home residents are vulnerable to many different forms of abuse from various perpetrators, and theft in nursing homes is common. That’s why you must be vigilant about your loved one’s physical, mental, emotional, and financial health.

Inappropriate behavior may be what alerts you to serious abuse.

If another resident waltzes in and out of your loved one’s room without permission or care, pay attention to what they do when they notice you’re visiting. Do they immediately turn tail and leave? Do they ignore you and rummage through your loved one’s things? Do they sit down and introduce themselves while joking around with your relative?

Perhaps this other resident is a close friend. But it could also be someone taking advantage of your loved one’s vulnerable state.

If you notice staff acting inappropriately, consult with your loved one about their behavior. Do staff members often remove their jewelry without asking? Does your loved one remember getting their jewelry back or are they later accused of misplacing it?

Consider Gifting Your Loved One Some Tech

Technology may help with tracking down stolen or missing items. Your forgetful loved one can keep a Bluetooth tracking device in their wallet, helping them to immediately find it or learn that it’s no longer near the nursing home.

Technology may even help prevent future thefts. Just last year, a relative of a Florida nursing home patient witnessed a theft through an Amazon Alexa device. The relative alerted police, who said the accused man was believed to have robbed residents at several area nursing homes.

What if my loved one was the victim of theft in a nursing home?

After speaking with your elderly loved one, contact a West Palm Beach elder abuse attorney as soon as possible. Florida law limits the amount of time you have to file a claim.

Contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today for a free elder abuse case evaluation.

5 Signs Your Elder May Be Experiencing Abuse

elder abuseAs our loved ones get older, they rely on their relatives, friends, and professional staff to help take care of them and keep them safe. However, it’s an unfortunate reality that many elderly people are mistreated, taken advantage of, and even abused. 

The first step that people can take to protect their relatives and friends is to learn how to recognize the signs of elder abuse. An awareness of these signs could save someone from potential neglect or abuse. 

 

Types of Elder Abuse

Many people wrongly assume that they would know if their elderly loved one was being abused because they believe the injuries would be obvious. Physical elder abuse sometimes results in visible injuries, but that’s not always the case. 

One of the reasons that elder abuse often goes undetected is that the abuse itself can be extremely subtle. Elder abuse can occur in many different forms:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse 
  • Neglect 

All forms of abuse have one thing in common: they result in serious and long-lasting damage to an elderly person. When the abuse happens without consequence, it puts them at risk of experiencing more abuse in the future. 

 

Signs of Elder Abuse

Knowing the signs of elder abuse is crucial to protecting them from individuals who are unafraid to harm or take advantage of a vulnerable person. 

Pay attention to these signs of elder abuse so you can prevent the abuse from happening again: 

1. Unexplained Injuries 

Physical abuse is a common form of elder abuse that can involve anything from hitting, pushing, kicking, or wrongly restraining an elderly person. This type of abuse most often results in injuries that are unexplainable to a witness.

If you see cuts, bruising, bleeding, burns, or broken bones, identify what caused the injury. Even if you think the elderly person might have hurt themselves by accident, you should still investigate. If you see the same injuries happening repeatedly, this is another sign of elder abuse and needs to be thoroughly investigated. 

 

2. Unexpected Depression, Anxiety, or Confusion

If your elderly loved one undergoes a sudden personality change, acts frightened, or is more withdrawn than usual, there is a good chance that they’ve been victimized by an abuser. 

Regardless of the type of abuse that has occurred, it’s not uncommon to see unexplainable symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

 

3. A Sudden Change in Their Financial Situation

A more subtle form of elder abuse is financial abuse. Elderly people are often targets of scams and people looking to take advantage of a vulnerable person for their money. 

Signs of financial abuse include unexplainable bank withdrawals or transfers, unusual credit card activity, or forged signatures on financial documents or checks. 

 

4. Poor Hygiene

Poor hygiene is often a sign that an elderly person is being neglected in some way. Whether they’re unbathed, living in an unclean environment, or are suffering from bedsores or skin rashes, there’s a strong chance that these are signs of neglect. 

Neglect is a serious form of abuse that can complicate existing health issues. Elderly people deserve to live with dignity and self-respect. If they’re being neglected, they’re being deprived of that dignity. 

 

5. A Caregiver Doesn’t Want to Let You See the Elder Alone 

If your elder is living in a nursing home facility or with a caretaker, you assume that they are treated with respect. However, nursing home abuse is all too common. An alarming sign of elder abuse is if a nursing home staff member, caretaker, or other professional does everything they can to ensure the elder does not have visitors without them present. 

As a family member or close loved one, you should note if someone refuses to leave you alone with the elderly person. They may have something to hide and are intimidating the elder into silence with their presence. 

 

Contact an Elder Abuse Attorney Right Away

If you see any of these signs of elder abuse, it’s critical that you remove your loved one from the dangerous situation as soon as possible. For legal support, contact an experienced Florida elder abuse lawyer who can help you protect your elderly relatives and prevent future abuse from occurring. 

To speak to someone by phone, call our number (561) 655-1990.

 

Why Do Seniors Endure Abuse? Questions for an Elder Abuse Attorney

Why Do Seniors Endure AbuseAs family members and friends of senior citizens, we expect our vulnerable adults to live out the remainder of their lives in peace. Unfortunately, elder abuse is a common problem, regardless of whether the senior lives at home or in a long-term care facility. In many circumstances, elder abuse goes unreported. 

Additionally, there are instances where cognitive decline, mobility limitations, or other factors keep seniors from relocating to a safe place. If you suspect that a relative or friend is the victim of abuse, what can you do? Here’s some important information about seniors that endure abuse, and what steps you should take to report negative living situations to an elder abuse attorney.

Causes of Ongoing Elder Abuse

Several factors contribute to a vulnerable adult staying in abusive environments, including:

Mental Illness

As we age, we become more susceptible to mental illnesses. Vulnerable adults that have a mental illness are typically easy targets for abusers, who seek people who have trouble communicating or sharing their feelings. 

A vulnerable adult that has a mental illness might not be able to identify forms of abuse. Also, they might worry about retaliation, have trouble determining who to share experiences abuse with, or fear a change in their living situation if they report an abuser.

Dependence On Drugs or Alcohol

Those who abuse drugs or alcohol also find themselves as victims of physical, emotional, and sexual elder abuse. Their use of drugs or alcohol can be a coping mechanism due to the abuse, or it can be a problem that started before abuse took place. 

Vulnerable adults who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol might feel anxiety about their legal or illegal activities and may feel like it is better to put up with the abuse than seek help for their problems. Often, these cases are extreme and require not only a different living arrangement but inpatient treatment as well.

Dependence On the Abuser

Elder abuse attorneys will tell you that abuse can happen anywhere, including within the vulnerable adult’s own household. Due to the dependence on relatives or caregivers, elder abuse victims can be hesitant to report instances of abuse. 

If they are unable to manage their finances, take care of themselves, or have an emotional dependence on an abuser, it’s not always easy to speak up. Vulnerable adults may avoid speaking to other family members or friends about the instances of abuse because that would lead to significant lifestyle changes.

Poor Housing Conditions

When we take our relatives or friends to live in a long-term care facility, we expect that the vulnerable adult’s needs will be met. Unfortunately, it’s possible to make a mistake while selecting the proper institutional settings for our seniors. 

Specific situations make elder abuse more common, such as when a facility lacks the staff or resources to meet all their resident’s needs. A vulnerable adult might not have access to formal services to address instances of abuse, while burned-out staff members might overlook or fail to realize that abuse is occurring.

How can I identify elder abuse?

There are two main ways that we can protect elders from instances of abuse at home and in long-term care facilities. First, members of the community should regularly build relationships with vulnerable adults. The more people who can check on the living conditions of our seniors, the easier it will be to identify instances of short and long-term abuse. 

Second, there should be regular monitoring of what occurs in senior care facilities. This should include training for employees, visits by social workers, and other procedures that make it easy to monitor the health and wellbeing of our seniors.

Do you need an elder abuse attorney to help get your loved one out of an abusive living situation?

For our vulnerable citizens, it can be a real challenge to leave an abusive household or long-term care facility. If you believe that someone is suffering from elder abuse, it’s important that you get advice from an elder abuse attorney. Contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath if you need advice on removing your loved one from an abusive environment and bringing those responsible to justice. 

We are ready to discuss your case during a no-obligation consultation and inform you of how best to handle the situation. Contact us using the live chat feature on our website or call us at (561) 655-1990. The sooner you act, the quicker you can get your loved one into a safe environment.