It is difficult to think about the possibility of elder abuse, but it is far more common than most people realize. If you have aging loved ones who require around-the-clock care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or with a home caregiver, it is important to pay close attention to ensure they remain safe and well cared for. Make sure you know these signs of elder abuse or neglect so you can put a stop to any unwarranted conduct.
What are some common signs of physical abuse or sexual abuse in New York City?
A single bruise or even a broken arm does not necessarily point to abuse. Seniors are at an increased risk for falls and other injuries, and often bruise easily. While one sign may not indicate abuse, a pattern of ongoing injuries may. Keep an eye out for:
- Bruising, including pressure marks
- Burns, rope burns, or abrasion marks that may indicate restraint
- Patches of lost hair
- Bruising on the breasts or genitals
- New sexually transmitted diseases
- Unexplained injuries or other health problems
- Decreased alertness or other signs of drugging
In some cases, you may not see physical signs. Be sure to monitor the interactions between your loved one and his or her caregiver(s). Does your loved one seem angry, uncomfortable, frightened, or nervous when in the presence of the caregiver? Does the caregiver seem unwilling to allow you and your loved one to spend time alone together?
If you observe any of these signs, discuss your concerns with your loved one.
How can I recognize emotional abuse?
Unlike physical abuse, there are few obvious signs left behind by emotional abuse. Instead, you should pay close attention to your loved one’s behavior, and note any significant changes. Signs of emotional abuse may include:
- Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities
- A change in alertness
- Unusual anxiety or depression
- Unexplained paranoia
- Strained relations with a caregiver
- Fear of being alone with a particular caregiver
- Insomnia or excessive sleep
How can I spot neglect?
Neglect may not seem as damaging as physical or emotional abuse, but it can be just as dangerous, if not more so. Not giving seniors the medical care they need and failing to address basic needs can quickly lead to illness or even death. Take any sign of neglect seriously. These signs may include:
- Signs of dehydration
- Missed meals or unexplained weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Soiled clothing or bed linens
- Missed medication doses
- Unattended medical needs
What are some signs of financial exploitation?
Financial abuse is sometimes the most difficult of all types of exploitation to spot, especially if you do not have access to your senior’s bank statements and other financial records. For this reason, it is important for family members who do have access to these documents to watch them closely for signs of financial exploitation. This may include:
- Unexplained difficulty paying bills despite adequate income
- Sudden withdrawal of large sums or an unexpected withdrawal of small sums regularly
- Balances that do not match expected totals
- Unexplained ATM debits or credit card charges
- Forged signatures
- Unapproved use of a checkbook, ATM card, or credit card by a caregiver
- Extraordinary interest by others in the elder’s assets
What can I do to reduce my loved one’s risk of becoming a victim?
Elder abuse and neglect occurs in affluent suburbs as well as in government-funded long term care facilities. No one is immune to the possibility of elder abuse, so it is difficult to eliminate the risk for your loved one. By being alert and knowing the signs of abuse, however, you can ensure your family member does not suffer in silence.
If you think you see signs of elder abuse in New York, report your concerns to the facility’s management. You can also file a report by calling 1-844-697-3505 or contacting your county’s Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services. (If you believe your loved one or another resident is in danger, do not hesitate to call 911.)
Caregivers who abuse a senior in their care face serious legal consequences under New York law, including the possibility of felony charges. In addition to felony charges, caregivers may also face civil lawsuits to recover any abuse-related damages.
No one wants to see their aging mother, father, grandparent, or friend suffer at the hands of an abusive caregiver. Once you discover the abuse and ensure your senior is safe, you may want to contact a New York elder abuse lawyer.
At The Rybak Firm, PLLC, we can help you file an elder abuse claim. Your senior may deserve a payout to cover abuse-related medical care, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, and other expenses. Contact us today at 718-307-5554 to learn more.