“Self-neglect” is a term used to refer to senior citizens whose physical or mental disabilities prevent them from caring for themselves and have no one else to care for them. According to federal data gathered from the investigation of more than 700,000 reports involving elder abuse and neglect in 2017, approximately 235,000 incidences of abuse were confirmed. This number also includes “self-neglect” cases.In Maryland, state adult protective services (APS) investigated roughly 109 reports of elder abuse per 100,000 residents. Investigations ultimately revealed about 28 confirmed instances of elder abuse for every 100,000 residents.
While these numbers are shocking, the reality of the problem may be more severe. Due to the inefficiencies in the systems used for tracking elder abuse, the reported figures for 2017 likely underestimate the seriousness of the nation’s elder abuse problem.
What Constitutes Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse covers a broad range of harmful behavior, from physical or sexual assault to fraudulent financial predatory conduct. Unfortunately, the most common type of elder abuse is neglect as many seniors who are physically or mentally incapable of independently performing activities of daily living have no one else to care for them.
“Self-neglect appears to be a very serious problem in our society, not a new problem.” Said Holly Ramsey-Klawsnik, director of research for the National Adult Protective Services Association. “But it is, as you’ve been picking up, approximately two-thirds of the cases reported by APS nationwide.”
How Can You Identify Elder Abuse?
At Brown & Barron, LLC, we agree that the country needs to improve elder abuse reporting in order to get a comprehensive picture of how pervasive this problem truly is. There should be a federal mandate to report instances of elder abuse – like the reporting laws for child abuse cases.
Until strong political action about elder abuse report materializes, it is up to us to be vigilant about identifying and addressing elder abuse. To protect your elderly loved ones, look for signs of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or financial exploitation.
Signs that often indicate that someone has been the victim of elder abuse include:
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Recurring or unexplained wounds that become infected
- Inexplicable sudden weight loss
- Pressure sores
- Sacral ulcers
- Broken bones, head injuries, and other injuries associated with frequent falling
- Increased anxiety, withdrawal, fear, or other psychological changes
- Substandard safety and sanitary measures in nursing home facilities
How Should You Respond to Elder Abuse?
If you have observed and confirmed an instance of elder abuse, you should consult an experienced nursing home and elder abuse attorney for legal advice. At Brown & Barron, LLC, we can advise you on the proper steps to take when it comes to spotting and reporting elder abuse. We have the knowledge and skill to help you address and prevent elder abuse. We can also help you take legal action to hold those responsible for elder abuse liable for the injuries they inflicted on your elderly loved ones.