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Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or neglectful

According the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service's Administration on Aging, hundreds of thousands of older people suffer abuse, neglect and exploitation annually. Given this staggering statistic, our Philadelphia readers may wonder as what, exactly, constitute elder abuse. Elder abuse can be defined as any act, whether intentional or negligent, directed towards an elder who is vulnerable. The abuse can be committed by the caregiver but can also be from any other person, including someone who is a stranger to the elder.

Elder abuse can take multiple forms, including forms of nursing home neglect. Each form has its telltale signs. Physical abuse is usually inflicted in the form of slapping or punching the person but can also take the form of non-consensual restraining. A sign that this type of abuse is taking place is recurring bruising, abrasions, burns or even broken bones in extreme situations.

An elderly person can also be sexually abused and a clear indication that sexual abuse is ongoing would be bruising or abrasions in the vicinity of the breasts or genital area. Another form of abuse is emotional abuse, whereby the elder is being threatened or intimidated verbally or through nonverbal acts. This type of abuse is characterized by depression or withdrawal of the elderly person from normal daily activities.

Yet another form of abuse that is recognized by the law is the willful neglect of an elderly person by their caregiver. This type of abuse happens when the elderly person's caregiver fails to provide them with adequate nutrition, healthcare or shelter and protection.

It is important to remember that these signs don't necessarily mean that abuse is certainly taking place, but rather that there is a possibility that abuse may be happening. If you recognize any of these signs it may be reassuring to err on the side of caution and report it or speak with an attorney. For those who would like more information on elder abuse, nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse, a personal injury lawyer familiar with elder abuse law can be an informative and compassionate resource.

Source: U.S. Department of Human & Health Services, "What is Elder Abuse?" accessed May 4, 2015

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