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Elder abuse is unfortunately a common problem in the United States. As shocking as this type of abuse may seem, elder abuse happens every day in private residences and nursing homes. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, rates of abuse within these spaces could be as high as 7.6% to 10%. Many victims of elder abuse suffer in silence. If you suspect that a loved one is experiencing abuse at the hands of a caregiver, you should report the abuse as soon as possible.
What Is Elder and Nursing Home Abuse?
Elder abuse refers to any physical, sexual, emotional, or financial action that exploits, neglects, or harms an elderly person. For the purposes of statistics, an elder refers to any adult over the age of 60. Elder abuse can happen to any person, regardless of sex, race, religion, or ethnic background. This form of abuse can occur in multiple spaces, including at home or in a nursing home.
Many elderly people depend on their caregivers to provide them with food, medication, mobility assistance, financial advice, and general protection. However, some caregivers can breach this trust and harm or neglect the elderly person. In some cases, an elderly person is too incapacitated to get himself or herself out of a dangerous situation. Many victims of elder abuse endure these actions without support from outside friends and family.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse comes in five main forms.
- Financial abuse is the most common type of elder abuse. Financial abuse occurs when a caregiver misuses the funds and assets of an elderly person for the benefit of anyone other than the elderly. Forgery, theft, coercion, and improper use of guardianship are all forms of financial abuse.
- Physical abuse refers to the use of physical force to cause pain, illness, distress, or death to an elderly person. Hitting, striking, shoving, burning, and slapping are all examples of physical abuse.
- Abandonment and neglect refer to the failure of the caregiver to provide necessities, such as food, shelter, hydration, medical care, and basic hygiene to the elderly person. Sometimes, a caregiver can abandon the elderly person at home or in a public place. Since many elders cannot provide these necessities for themselves, this action can lead to disease or death.
- Emotional or psychological abuse is the use of verbal or nonverbal behavior to cause mental pain, fear, distress, or anguish to an elderly person. Humiliation, threats, isolation, and control over the elder’s contact with other people, money, and transportation are all forms of emotional abuse.
- Sexual abuse is the forced or unwanted sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person. Sexual abuse also occurs when an elder is too incapacitated to consent to sexual activity. Forced penetration, fondling, and intentional touching are all forms of sexual abuse.
Reporting a Case of Elder Abuse in Georgia
Georgia has several pathways to report an instance of elder abuse.
- If the abuse is happening within a nursing home or caused by a hired caregiver, you should report the abuse to the direct supervisor of the abuser.
- If the abuse is severe enough to put your loved one’s life in danger or involves sexual abuse, you should call the police and make a report.
- To prevent a caregiver from abusing additional elders in the future, you can report the abuse to Adult Protective Services of the State of Georgia Division of Aging Services.
When you report the abuse to the police or to an oversight board, they will launch an investigation into the circumstances of the case. It is important to obtain the services of an elder abuse attorney to represent you and your loved one in the legal process. In addition to criminal charges, you may also be able to file a claim directly against the abuser and/or the nursing home to recover compensatory damages.