Elder Abuse: Not Just Physical
If you recently laughed your way through Deadpool 2 or sat at the edge of your seat during Avengers: Infinity War, you have Stan Lee to thank. As a comic book writer and longtime fixture of Marvel Comics, Lee co-created timeless characters like Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Spider Man, and the X-Men. He has played a role in creating dozens of superhero franchises that both adults and kids continue to enjoy today.
But while his name may be synonymous with superheroes, 95-year-old Lee isn’t immune to the plights of old age. He recently filed a restraining order against his manager, following allegations that the manager, who began acting as Lee’s caretaker after the death of his wife, isolated Lee from his family, forced his staff to sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent them from voicing concerns, and took advantage of Lee’s vulnerability. If these accusations are true, it’s another tragic and twisted case of elder abuse, an issue that befalls many older Americans.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is defined as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment, with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish or deprivation by a person, including a caregiver, of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.”
Elder abuse can be committed by caretakers, including family members, as well as by nursing home staff or in-home healthcare providers, hospital staff, or anyone else who works with an elderly person, like a financial adviser or attorney. It can include:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Denial of basic necessities, like water or clean bedding
While physical and sexual abuse are horrific crimes, emotional and financial abuse can be just as insidious. Elderly people might be isolated from their families, forced to sign important documents, or be tricked or coerced into giving away money, possessions, or control of their estate. When this happens, the elderly person might lose money intended for medical care or family stability. While it might be more subtle than physical abuse, emotional and financial abuse can have serious ramifications for elderly people and their loved ones.
Another more subtle form of elder abuse is neglect. Neglect is not always the result of malicious intent. It can result from miscommunications, human error, or understaffing, for example. Still, it can have dangerous consequences, including:
- Injuries like broken bones or head trauma from falls while unsupervised
- Untreated illnesses
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Unsanitary living spaces
- Overdoses or other affects from wrongfully prescribed medication
Along with neglect and intentional abuse, elder abuse can also be the result of a third party. For example, a wheelchair manufacturer might negligently use breakable parts in their design, leading to a fall injury, or a medical company could misprint the recommended dosage on their labels.
The Rights of the Elderly
Though people get more fragile and vulnerable as they age, they are still entitled to basic dignity. According to the Nursing Home Reform Act, elderly people have the right to:
- Freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
- Accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs
- Be aware of any changes in care or treatment
When someone is a victim of elder abuse, whether it’s financial or physical, these rights are breached.
Elder can happen to anyone, from beloved comic book creators to grandmas. Unfortunately, it often occurs at the hands of people who are supposed to be responsible and trustworthy. But by being aware of elder abuse and holding nursing homes, hospitals, and other caretakers responsible for providing diligent and dignified care, elderly people and their loved ones can make sure they receive the care they deserved.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.