Many seniors around the world are being abused, often by people who are directly responsible for their care. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, victims of abuse,neglect and financial exploitation have three times the risk of dying prematurely. In the U.S. alone, more than half a million reports of abuse against elderly Americans reach authorities every year. Millions of more cases go unreported.
Elder abuse occurs in their own homes, in relatives’ homes, and even in facilities such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Symptoms of elder abuse are sometimes confused with normal signs of aging, therefore it may be difficult to identify elder abuse. Even though an elderly person may be hesitant to discuss injuries or odd behavior, it is important to find out how they became hurt.
There has also been a rise in financial exploitation regarding elder funds, property and assets. This entails the misuse of an elder bank account, such as forging the elder signature and withdrawing cash from bank accounts. Some abusers go as far as stealing household goods and credit cards. As Marie-Therese Connolly, a former Department of Justice lawyer said, “The role of a caregiver comes with legal and moral obligation.”
Elder Abuse is becoming an issue that is reaching national spotlight, with the hope of decreasing the number of cases. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has gone so far as to form an Elder Law Task Force, chaired by Justice Debra Todd, to study the growing problems involved in guardianship, abuse and neglect, and access to justice. Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille charged the taskforce with recommending solutions that include court rules, legislation, education and best practices. At AlerStallings, we hope that Ohio will follow suit and that with continuing efforts, elder abuse will subside in the years to come.
If you suspect that an elderly person is at risk from a neglectful caregiver, or being preyed upon financially, it’s important to speak up. Call the Ohio Elder Abuse Hotline at 866-635-3748 or AlerStallings at 614.798.9800.