World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Reminds Us of Elder Abuse Risks
In response to outreach measures conducted each year as part of Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a recent article in the Finger Lakes Times noted a New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study that sought to determine what percentage of older Americans became a victim of nursing home abuse. Working in connection with Weill Cornell Medical Center and the New York City Department for the Aging, Lifespan conducted “the first statewide study of elder abuse in the United States.”
What did the study find?
In the course of just one year, 7.6 percent of New York elderly residents (around 260,000 people) became victims of some form of elder abuse. It is important to remember that elder abuse can take many forms, from physical abuse to neglect to financial exploitation. The figures in the study account for all forms of elder abuse.
The results of the study encouraged Lifespan to develop programs and initiatives for the New York public to become more educated about the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. Last year, the organization trained more than 5,000 people “to recognize the signs of elder abuse.”
Shortly after the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, elder abuse advocates got together to create an elder abuse and identity theft coalition that focuses on the risks of elder financial exploitation. Seven different counties in New York State are currently working together on “an innovative grant project that draws resources of the community together in multidisciplinary teams to address cases of financial exploitation.” Thus far the project has “seen over $500,000 in court-ordered repayment or restitution agreements in cases of elder exploitation,” and “over $130,000 has already been recovered by victims.”
Understanding Elder Abuse
The Administration on Aging (AoA) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and one of its roles is to carry out provisions of federal laws aimed to protect the well-being of older adults. It provides information for the public that explains some of the warning signs and risk factors of elder abuse.
According to the AoA, warning signs of physical abuse can include:
- Unexplained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, and/or burns; and/or
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases.
Signs of nursing home neglect look somewhat different and can include:
- Untreated bed sores;
- Lack of basic hygiene;
- Lack of food;
- Lack of supervision;
- Confinement to a bed without care; and/or
- Dirty or cluttered living space.
Finally, warning signs of financial exploitation, according to the AoA, can include:
- Lack of amenities or comforts that should be affordable;
- An elder giving financial reimbursement for companionship;
- A situation in which an elder’s caregiver has financial control but is not providing for the elder’s needs;
- A situation in which an older adult has given a family member or caregiver financial control; and/or
- An elder giving excessive gifts to a family member or caregiver.
Are you concerned that an older adult in your life may be the victim of elder abuse? Contact an experienced elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible.