When we entrust a professional caretaker with an older adult, we expect that they’ll treat them with compassion and respect. Many caretakers take their role seriously, but there are too many who violate the trust they’ve been given by committing abuse.
What causes some caretakers to abuse their elderly charges? It’s a complicated question without one specific answer. Understanding the various causes of elder abuse can help relatives and friends recognize signs of potential elder abuse and keep their elderly loved ones safe.
What are the different types of elder abuse?
One of the factors that makes elder abuse hard to detect is that it comes in many different shapes and forms. In addition to physical abuse, some caretakers abuse elders through intimidation or threats of violence, while others fail to care for their charge and neglect their needs altogether.
The different types of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Healthcare fraud
- Neglect and self-neglect
As adults age and become more dependent on those around them, they’re less able to defend and protect themselves. This is especially true when the abuse is coming from the very same people who are supposed to care for them.
Elder abuse is hard to imagine, and many don’t want to believe that their loved ones could be at risk. However, it’s a sad reality that approximately 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 experience some type of elder abuse.
On top of knowing how to recognize the various forms of elder abuse, it’s also important to understand what causes caretakers to abuse their elderly charges.
Causes of Elder Abuse
Knowing the causes and risk factors of elder abuse can prevent loved ones from experiencing abuse in the future.
Some common causes of elder abuse include a lack of support at an institutional level, problems that the caregiver is experiencing in their personal life, and familial stress or complex family situations.
Understaffing or a Lack of Support Can Cause Elder Abuse
Caretaking facilities have a duty to not only protect their elderly residents but to also provide adequate support and resources for their staff members. The role of a caretaker is often stressful and requires a high level of managerial support. When nursing homes and assisted living facilities fail to hire enough staff to cover the many needs of their residents, they’re contributing to an environment that enables elder abuse.
A high turnover rate among employees can contribute to understaffing, as well as greed on the part of the facility. When a nursing home facility chooses to maximize profits over providing adequate staffing, they’re endangering the health and wellbeing of every resident in their facility.
Personal Issues in Caretakers Can Lead to Elder Abuse
Caretakers experiencing the following issues may take their stress and anger out on those around them, leading to neglect or abuse of their elderly charges:
- Issues with drug or alcohol abuse
- Financial stress
- Psychological problems or disorders
- Anxiety caused by their responsibilities at work
Just as with any role in life, personal issues can affect someone’s performance and temperament. However, the stakes are much higher for caretakers as they’re directly responsible for the wellbeing of vulnerable individuals.
A Complex Family Situation Can Lead to Elder Abuse
The elderly often find themselves in the care of spouses and children. A cycle of domestic violence can continue if the abusive spouse shifts into a caretaking role. Abuse can also occur as part of a role reversal where the victim finds themselves caring for their abuser.
There are also many situations where an adult child finds themselves caring for an aging parent without the necessary resources. A lack of time, space, and money can all contribute to an environment where the caretaker’s stress manifests as elder abuse.
If you suspect an elderly loved one has been the victim of abuse, take action now.
Remove them from the situation as soon as possible, and contact an experienced and compassionate Florida elder abuse lawyer. The elder abuse lawyers at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath are committed to fighting for justice on behalf of victims.
Schedule a risk-free case evaluation today by calling (561) 655-1990. Our legal team looks forward to speaking with you.