There are nearly three-quarters of a million senior citizens in Alabama, and many of them are cared for in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and their own homes by family members or professionals.
Unfortunately, for many of these elders, elder abuse is a tragic part of life. Elders routinely suffer from emotional, psychological, sexual, and physical abuse (and neglect) at the hands of their caretakers. One out of every 10 senior citizen has been abused or neglected in some way.
What’s worse is that we only know about a portion of these cases – because most cases go unreported.
Why Most Patients Are Silent
Many elders who are abused aren’t in a position to complain to anyone, either because they’re incapacitated or mentally ill or they don’t have family members who can intervene. We only know about these cases after the fact, usually because a staff member at a nursing home or assisted living facility is arrested for one of the few cases that are reported.
There’s also a darker reason: many elderly patients and residents are intimidated into keeping quiet by their caretakers. There have been many cases in which staff members who were actively abusing their wards threatened their residents into silence. This also includes family members who have committed abuse or neglect against their loved ones in their care.
At the end of the day, it’s usually up to family members to raise the alarm about suspicions they have about the care their loved ones are receiving from caretakers. But if you don’t know the signs, it will be very difficult to notice if something’s going wrong.
Learning the Warning Signs of Abuse
There are many red flags to look for when it comes to abuse or neglect. Your loved one may be a victim of abuse or neglect if they:
- Exhibit unusual changes in personality and behavior
- Have physical wounds or injuries that are unexplained
- Suffer from bruises and lesions
- Become uncharacteristically withdrawn and isolated
- Lose a significant amount of weight
- Develop strained relationships with others
- Exhibit unusual depressive symptoms
- Become uncharacteristically agitated and aggressive
- Show poor hygiene
Another symptom is one of the biggest red flags of them all: caretakers who are reluctant to talk about any of the above with you. If you raise concerns, and it looks like staff members are hiding something, they probably are, as our experience as elder abuse lawyers has shown.
If your loved one is a victim of elderly abuse, don’t let it go unreported. Encourage them to tell you if they are in trouble, and don’t be afraid to raise the alarm they can’t or won’t do it for themselves. And talk to an elder abuse attorney if you suspect something wrong is happening to your loved one.