It's something no one wants to see happen to a parent or loved one, but elder abuse occurs more often than most people realize and experts say many cases go unreported.
That's why agencies, such as the Pennsylvania Department on Aging, recognize June 15 each year as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Those who participate use the day as an opportunity to educate residents about how to recognize and report elder abuse.
Sadly, elder abuse can happen in the very place you hoped your aging father, mother or relative would be kept safe. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature and sometimes occurs in nursing homes and assisted care facilities. Additionally, when nursing home staff members fail to attend to residents’ basic needs, this is neglect which is also considered a form of elder abuse.
Vulnerable, aging adults who are neglected often suffer psychological and emotional pain as well as physical harm and injuries. A lack of proper supervision and care also can lead to illness and preventable falls. Authorities say that signs of abuse may include broken bones or other injuries, isolation and weight loss.
With increased public awareness, advocates hope to keep seniors safe and under the best care possible.
More than 20,000 cases of elder abuse were reported last year in Pennsylvania, according to the state Department on Aging. Those who suspect elder abuse are encouraged to seek help. The agency will investigate suspected abuse of an older adult living in a nursing home or care facility, as well those who live in their own home.
In cases where a loved one suffered harm, injury or death due to the negligence of nursing home staff members, it’s important to explore your legal options. An attorney experience in nursing home neglect cases can answer your questions and provide options, which may include taking legal action.
Source: Post-Gazette.com, "State deals with trend of elderly abuse cases on the rise," Michaelle Bond, May 16, 2016.