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Certain factors may increase risk of elder abuse

As a beloved family member gets older, it can become difficult for people to care for themselves. Medical conditions can require constant care and attention that cannot be done in a person's home. In these cases, nursing homes are often trusted to care for these important family members. These medical facilities are supposedly better equipped to deal with long-term medical issues.

While families place a lot of trust in these facilities, this trust is often betrayed. Often negligent staff members fail to take care of elders and nursing home abuse is common. In some situations this abuse can lead to physical distress and shorten the person's life span. It can also lead to a host of other physical, emotional and financial problems for a nursing home resident.

There are several risk factors that can be identified that may indicate an increased risk for elder abuse. Some of these risk factors point to the caregiver. If the caregiver has an increased amount of stress, the person is more likely to lash out at the patient. In an institution, this stress can come from poor working conditions or from having too many responsibilities. Substance abuse, depression and a lack of support can also be risk factors that lead to elder abuse. Finally, a lack of training or having a personality unsuited for a caregiver role can also increase the risk of abuse.

Some factors that increase the risk of abuse fall on the elderly person. If the person is socially isolated and not connected to a community the person is more likely to suffer abuse. If the person has a tendency to react with physical or verbal abuse toward others, then the risk of abuse is also increased. Finally, the degree to which the person suffers from dementia or serious illness can increase the person's risk of suffering abuse.

When a Pennsylvania elder suffers abuse in a nursing home that results in injuries or death, the family of the person should know they have legal rights. With the right legal help, they may be able to obtain compensation.

Source: HelpGuide.org, "Elder Abuse and Neglect," accessed on Feb. 8, 2015

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