What constitutes elder abuse? If this is something you want to know, it is most likely because you have a loved one that you believe has been a victim of elder abuse. However, to be sure, you want to know what constitutes elder abuse.
Elder abuse is referred to in other ways. It is also called senior abuse, abuse of older adults, elder mistreatment and abuse in later life.
Elder abuse is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as being, “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” In other words, elder abuse is doing something or not doing something that results in an older person being hurt in some way, or that older person being placed in a position where they may be harmed.
From a legal standpoint, federal law does not address elder abuse. This is in spite of the fact that federal legislation funds the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). However, legislatures in all 50 states have passed some type of elder abuse prevention laws. Generally speaking, elder abuse constitutes any knowing, negligent or intentional act by a caregiver or anyone else that results in harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.
From a medical standpoint, elder abuse is considered to be any act or omission that brings about harm or potential harm to the health or welfare of a person who is 65 or older. This may include neglect that is either intentional or unintentional and may occur at home, an institution or through self neglect.
How big a problem is elder abuse in the United States? It is estimated that 1 out of every 10 senior citizens in the United States suffers some kind of abuse. However, according to the NCEA, less than 20% of these cases ever get reported.
Elder abuse may occur in several different forms. Some of these include:
Physical abuse – This is what probably first comes to mind when elder abuse is mentioned. It involves any act of violence that causes injury, disease, pain or impairment and may include pushing, striking, force-feeding or improper use of medication or physical restraints.
Sexual abuse – This is defined as nonconsensual intimate exposure or contact or any similar activity when the person is not able to give consent. Friends, family, fellow patients or institutional employees may be perpetrators of sexual abuse.
Emotional or psychological abuse – This is any conduct that results in mental anguish. It may include humiliation, threats, isolation and verbal or nonverbal insults.
Financial abuse – This refers to misuse of an elderly person’s money or assets for personal gain. It may involve coercion or stealing.
Neglect – This is when a caretaker fails to provide for an elderly person’s basic needs. This may be physical, emotional or financial.
With these things in mind regarding what constitutes elder abuse, if you believe your loved one has been a victim, the best thing to do is to talk to a personal injury attorney and have your loved one’s case evaluated at no cost or obligation to you.
Article written by James Shugart
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