The mistreatment of any human being is unacceptable. When the victim is vulnerable and has no means of defending themselves, it’s even worse. But perhaps the most heinous offense possible is that which is perpetrated against an elderly person. It’s a sad fact that Portland elder abuse, like in many other places, often goes unreported for a variety of reasons. If you believe your elderly friend or relative may be a victim of elder abuse, a Portland elder abuse attorney can help.
Efforts are underway to educate people on the extent of elder abuse in America. A recently completed report on elder abuse lists six different types of violence considered to be maltreatment, mostly perpetrated on people 60 years of age or older.
Types of Common Elder Abuse:
- Direct physical maltreatment, where the elderly person is kicked, punched, slapped or even burned
- Sexual abuse, which occurs when the elderly person is forced to take part in a sex act to which they have not or cannot consented
- Emotional maltreatment could best be described as bullying through things like name calling, frightening or embarrassing the elderly person, destroying their property or refusing to let them see family or friends. Such treatment invariably results in harming an elder’s self-worth and emotional well being.
- Neglect is abuse that comes through ignoring an elderly person’s needs in things like food, medical care, housing or clothing.
- Abandonment occurs when the person who is supposed to be the caregiver leaves an elder alone and refuses to provide the care for which they are responsible.
- Financial abuse frequently makes the news these days, when a person in a position of trust illegally uses the elderly person’s money, property or assets.
Who are the most likely perpetrators of elder abuse in Oregon?
In many cases, Portland elder abuse is carried out by someone the older person knows and trusts. This makes it especially difficult for them to report the abuse, even when they know it’s happening, because the person who is hurting them may be a family member, a trusted neighbor or even a professional caregiver. The victims are bullied into not reporting the abuse. They are told that no one will believe them or that they are mistaken and going senile. If anyone suspects that an elderly person is being abused, they should speak to a Portland elder abuse attorney who can help investigate the situation.
What are signs of elder abuse?
If you know and care about an elderly person and suspect they might be suffering maltreatment, watch out for a number of telltale signs. They include:
- Cuts, scratches, bruises and welts. While they may look innocent enough and are often explained away as being the result of minor slips, falls or other accidents, this minor physical damage may be the sign that something much more sinister is going on.
- Constant physical pain and soreness. These are not necessarily symptoms that everyone gets once they reach a certain age. If the elderly person is always in pain and can’t really explain why, there may be another reason they don’t want to talk about.
- Sudden and unexplained bouts of fear and anxiety. Elderly people who are being maltreated by someone they once trusted may become very uneasy around people they have known for years.
Who is most at risk for elder abuse?
Portland elder abuse can happen to any person of advanced years, but there are certain factors which may increase the likelihood of becoming a victim of maltreatment. They include:
- Heavy drinking of alcohol, or drug abuse
- Unusually high levels of stress
- Lack of social support mechanisms
- People who are highly dependent on the elderly person, both emotionally and financially, are seen as being in the high risk category of potential abusers.
- Lack of training on the part of the caregiver
- Pre-existing depression on the part of the elderly person leaves them even more vulnerable to maltreatment.
How can we stop Portland elder abuse?
The real secret, as in many other things, is to prevent the abuse from happening in the first place. If that’s not possible, try to follow some of the following steps, if you suspect an elderly person is being maltreated:
- Listen to the elders and their caregivers. If their statements contradict each other, dig deeper until any doubts you have are fully resolved.
- Report any abuse or suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services. Don’t assume someone else will do it, and remember it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Educate yourself about how to recognize the signs of elder abuse.
If you’re the person who is giving the care to an elderly person, you might want to consider:
- Getting help from other family members, friends or local relief care groups
- Taking the odd break, even if it’s just for an hour or two
- Getting someone other than other family members involved in the elderly person’s financial affairs
- Look for an adult day care program
- Seek counseling or support if you find yourself feeling depressed or under too much stress.
Elderly people shouldn’t have to feel afraid or depressed. They deserve respect, love and care in their later years. Sadly, Portland elder abuse affects a largely untold number of people each day, and it’s important the problem is dealt with by those in a position to help. If you think you might know of a vulnerable elderly person who is suffering maltreatment at the hands of someone who is supposed to be a caregiver, get involved and take the proper steps to stop the abuse from continuing.
If the elderly person has been injured through maltreatment, you should also consider contacting a Portland elder abuse attorney for a free consultation. It’s quite possible the person you care about is entitled to compensation under the law, as well as protection from abusive treatment.