We 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
- 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:
- Alcohol abuse
- Drug abuse
- 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.