President Joe Biden proclaimed June 15, 2021, as “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.” President Biden called attention to the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elderly individuals in the United States in the proclamation. He called for the international community to raise awareness of elder abuse and work to end this horrific problem.

The President recognized that elder abuse can take many forms. Elder abuse includes:

Sadly, one in ten Americans 60 years of age or older will experience some form of elder abuse this year. It is estimated that for each case of elder abuse reported to the police, 23 cases are never reported. Many cases of elder abuse and neglect occur in our nation’s nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other health care and medical facilities.

Ways You Can Prevent Elder Abuse in Your Community

There are many ways that we can work together to stop the abuse and neglect of our elderly citizens. Some elder abuse cases occur at home because a caregiver is exhausted, overworked, stressed, or alone. We can help caregivers by providing them with the assistance and support they need to continue caring for their loved ones at home.

Keeping elders engaged in their communities is another way to stop abuse and neglect. When elderly individuals have friends and community members they trust, they are more likely to turn to these individuals for help if they are in danger of abuse or exploitation.

Preventing nursing home abuse and neglect is a community effort. Family members and friends who visit regularly may notice signs of abuse or neglect at the nursing home. You should bring concerns about care, abuse, or neglect to the facility’s administrator immediately. If a resident is in immediate danger, contact local law enforcement agencies for help.

Enhanced oversight and inspections of nursing homes and long-term care facilities that receive government funding or government payments can also help address the abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Requiring thorough background checks and increasing the base pay for workers can result in more qualified workers.

You can also learn the signs of elder abuse and neglect to identify abuse or neglect when you witness it. Check in with elderly individuals regularly. Report any suspected abuse immediately to local authorities. The NCEA provides a list of state resources and contact information.

Steps to Take If Your Loved One is The Victim of Elder Abuse

The first priority is the person’s safety and wellbeing. If there is a chance that the older adult may be harmed or injured, make arrangements to move the person to a safe location. Call the police to report the abuse or neglect.

If possible, take pictures of the person’s injuries and the condition of the nursing home, residence, or another facility where the elderly person lives. Make careful notes about everything you observe and hear, including specific evidence and signs of elder abuse and neglect.

As soon as possible, contact an elder abuse attorney for help. An attorney gives you information you can use to protect your loved one from further harm. The attorney also explains your loved one’s legal rights for holding individuals and entities responsible for the abuse.

Depending on the facts of the case, your family member could be entitled to compensation for damages caused by elder abuse, including:

  • The cost of medical care and treatment for injuries caused by the abuse or neglect
  • Reimbursement for the cost of relocating your family member
  • Scarring, permanent impairment, or disfigurement
  • Emotional, physical, and mental pain and suffering
  • Decrease in the person’s quality of life
  • Cost of personal care and assistance

Elder abuse and neglect are against the law. The persons or parties responsible for the abuse and neglect could be charged with a crime. They could face jail time, fines, and other penalties.

Your civil case is separate from any criminal charges filed against the abuser and is not dependent upon the criminal case. Your family member may still win a personal injury lawsuit—even if the criminal charges are dismissed or the parties are acquitted.

The time to file a personal injury claim for elder abuse or neglect is limited. Do not wait too long to seek legal advice.