Florida has one of the largest elderly populations in the United States. Many of these individuals reside in nursing homes, live with family members, or require the assistance of in-home caregivers. Sadly, every senior who relies on someone else for his or her care is at risk for abuse. Although a high percentage of elder abuse occurs in nursing homes, seniors who live at home but require in-home care also suffer abuse. Given Florida’s large elderly population, it’s important for the family members of senior citizens in this state to have accurate information about this serious problem.
Unfortunately, despite this, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about elder and nursing home abuse, and these can result in instances of abuse going unrecognized and unreported. In this article, we examine five myths about elder and nursing home abuse. If you or a family member are a victim of elder or nursing home abuse, please contact a personal injury lawyer that has experience dealing with nursing home abuse cases.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a term that covers a broad spectrum of harmful behaviors, including:
- Physical abuse, which is the infliction of pain or injury on a senior citizen.
- Sexual abuse, which includes any sexual activity with an older adult who is unable or unwilling to consent.
- Emotional abuse, which includes threats of abuse, verbal assaults, harassment, and intimidation.
- Confinement, which involves the restraint or isolation of a senior (other than for approved medical reasons).
- Neglect, which is a caregiver’s failure to provide an older adult with the necessities of life, including clothing, shelter, food, and medical care.
- Willful deprivation, which involves denying a senior medical care, medication, food, shelter, or other physical assistance.
- Financial exploitation, which means the withholding, misuse, or theft of a senior citizen’s assets.
Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Myths
Myth #1: All Elder Abuse Happens in Nursing Homes
As noted above, although elder abuse often occurs in nursing homes, senior citizens in other types of living situations are routinely victimized. First, there are several types of facilities for the elderly, and they provide different levels of care. Elder abuse can occur at any of these facilities, including assisted living facilities, which provide residents with a higher level of freedom and autonomy than nursing homes.
In addition, senior citizens often experience abuse or neglect within their own homes, sometimes at the hands of family members. Therefore, it is particularly important for the family members of senior citizens—even those who don’t live in nursing homes—to monitor them closely for signs of abuse and neglect.
Myth #2: Elder and Nursing Home Abuse is Obvious
People often expect cases of elder and nursing home abuse to be obvious. When the family members of a senior citizen witness no bruises, cuts, or other visible injuries, they usually assume that their loved one is in good hands. Unfortunately, the myth that elder and nursing home abuse is obvious leads to many cases of abuse going undiscovered and unreported. For example, many injuries suffered by senior citizens, such as bruises and bedsores, exist under their clothing, thereby remaining hidden from family members. In addition, some forms of elder abuse and neglect, such as emotional abuse, don’t always have physical symptoms, and seniors who are victimized often either cannot report the abuse or are too scared to do so.
Myth #3: When a Senior Denies Abuse, It’s True
As noted above, senior citizens who suffer abuse are often scared to report it due to fear of retaliation by the abuser. In addition, seniors who suffer from dementia or other cognitive disorders may not even know or understand that they’ve been abused. Therefore, just because a senior denies that he or she has been abused, this doesn’t mean the denial is true. This makes it imperative for the family members of senior citizens who receive outside care to always remain on the lookout for signs of abuse and neglect.
Myth #4: Caregivers are the Only Ones Who Prey on Seniors
Although a high percentage of elder abuse is committed by caregivers, including those who work in nursing homes and those who provide in-home care, they aren’t the only ones who prey on seniors. Unfortunately, senior citizens can suffer abuse at the hands of the people they trust most, their own family members.
Myth #5: Elder Abuse Always Results in Physical Injuries
When most people think about elder abuse, they tend to picture broken bones, bruises, and other types of physical injuries. However, as discussed above, not all abuse results in physical injuries and symptoms. Some types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and financial exploitation, have no physical signs. People’s tendency to only look for physical signs of abuse results in many abuse cases going undetected and unreported. Therefore, although a lack of physical injuries is always a good thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a loved one isn’t a victim of elder abuse.
Contact a Nursing Home Attorney at Harrell & Harrell
If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home or elder abuse, you should contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible. Nursing home employees and others who abuse our elderly population must be held accountable, and the experienced nursing home lawyers at Harrell & Harrell are here to ensure that this happens. In order to hold elder abusers responsible for their actions, you must have legal proof of the abuse, and this can be difficult to acquire on your own. When you contact the nursing home abuse lawyers at Harrell & Harrell for assistance, we will use our legal knowledge and experience to gather the information necessary to prove that you or a loved one has suffered abuse at the hands of a nursing home, caretaker, or other entity or individual. If your case is successful, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the physical injuries and mental suffering you have endured. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.