New Legislation Is a Positive Step Toward Preventing Elder Abuse

New Legislation Is a Positive Step Toward Preventing Elder Abuse
0
(0)

Sadly, approximately one in 10 senior adults experience elder abuse in the United States. Each year, according to the National Council on Aging, it is estimated that up to 5 million seniors are abused, but only one in 14 cases is reported, meaning the majority of perpetrators are never prosecuted. Worse, the offense may continue.

With higher rates of both homicides and nonfatal assaults, more men are abused than women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What is elder abuse?

According to the CDC, elder abuse is defined as “an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.”

The person assigned to an elderly person’s care is often their abuser. Particularly saddening is the fact that nearly 60% of abusers are related to the older person they abuse, a large percentage of which are spouses or the elder’s adult children. The numbers are solid, given that familial caregivers make up 31% of households in the United States, the National Alliance for Caregiving noted.

The five types of senior abuse include: physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, and financial.

Vulnerability

There are multiple reasons why elderly people find themselves at risk. Isolation is one of the primary reasons. Not having a voice is another. In a perfect world, a caregiver is an elderly person’s voice and greatest champion. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Compared to elderly persons who are well treated, abused elders have a 300% higher risk of death.

People with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are unable to speak up for themselves or, given their cognitive challenges, may not be believed when they do. Alzheimer’s patients often come up with scenarios that simply aren’t true. Something in their brain triggers a false experience. They may retell another person’s experience as their own, or apply something they’ve seen in a movie or on television to their  personal life experience.

Their storytelling could complicate whether or not they’re believed when pointing an accusatory finger at an abusive caregiver. This poses a difficult scenario for law enforcement personnel, who have been ill-equipped as elder abuse first responders — that is, until recently.

Legislation

A few days before Christmas, the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act was signed into law.

The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement are the champions behind the bipartisan legislation, which will “require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop materials designed to assist law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, medical personnel, victims services personnel and others who encounter and support individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia,” according to a press release distributed by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The new law is a big step in the right direction for protecting elders. However, reporting crimes against seniors falls to the public. Abusive family members and caregivers certainly aren’t going to report themselves. Friends, family members, and casual observers have to learn the signs of abuse and be willing to get involved in protecting those who are vulnerable.

Pay attention

Take notice of an elderly person’s demeanor and physical appearance. Some elderly people have poor circulation and very thin skin that is prone to bruising. However, excessive bruising, broken bones, abrasions, pressure marks, and burns could all be signs of physical abuse.

Sudden weight loss might be a sign of neglect, as is a constant unkempt appearance and poor hygiene. Does the caregiver belittle the person in their care? Are they being harassed by harsh speech and name-calling? Is the elder verbally threatened?

Report

If you suspect that an elder person is in immediate danger that could be life-threatening, call 911 and report it. If you suspect that an elder is being neglected or taken advantage of financially, contact the Adult Protective Services office in your local area.

There are criminal penalties for elder abuse, but it has to be reported.

More good than bad

Elder abuse is an enormous problem in the U.S., but it’s important to remember that the majority of familial caregivers are loving and supportive. While it is crucial that elder abuse is reported, it is also essential that good caregivers aren’t falsely accused. Even elderly people who are well cared for will have an occasional bedsore or bruising. They may even appear unkempt because they refused to allow the caregiver to brush their teeth or bathe them on the day you took notice. Be vigilant regarding abuse, but also complete due diligence in regards to reporting.

***

Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.

As a former caregiver to an elderly parent who had Alzheimer’s disease, Florida-based Ray counts it a privilege to write columns discussing the day-to-day challenges associated with the onslaught of memory loss. Fighting a relentless foe, caregivers find themselves in the deep trenches, right alongside their loved ones. Her goal is to assist the caregiver on their journey by encouraging them to keep trudging through the mire of uncertainty. “I will be your harbinger of better days to come, so that you’ll know it’s possible to make it through the dark hours, and that even a difficult journey through Alzheimer’s disease can be punctuated with optimism. May you find joy on your journey.”
×
As a former caregiver to an elderly parent who had Alzheimer’s disease, Florida-based Ray counts it a privilege to write columns discussing the day-to-day challenges associated with the onslaught of memory loss. Fighting a relentless foe, caregivers find themselves in the deep trenches, right alongside their loved ones. Her goal is to assist the caregiver on their journey by encouraging them to keep trudging through the mire of uncertainty. “I will be your harbinger of better days to come, so that you’ll know it’s possible to make it through the dark hours, and that even a difficult journey through Alzheimer’s disease can be punctuated with optimism. May you find joy on your journey.”

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

2 comments

  1. Anil malik says:

    My Alzheimer father died because of elders abuse. He was discharged in hospital ambulance. It was done by one of the largest hospital in the bay area. He lived 6 minutes from hospital. It took the ambulance 3 hours to reach home in heat and no air in ambulance. I still cry every day for him. Arbitration judges were mixed with hospital and dismissed the case. Gross mis carriage of justice ever seen. Hospital is too big and I see seniors abused and dying but no law helps. Judges, lawyers all belong to hospitals so they get more cases. We are still slaves and always will be. My story is too long, pathetic and i will die crying thinking about it.

    • Ray Burow says:

      Dear Anil Malik,

      I am sorry for your loss and I pray that though the loss is tremendous and unthinkable, that you will find peace. Perhaps your story will help someone else.

      Ray

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *