May Is Older Americans Month
According to the last census, there are nearly 50 million elderly people in the United States. Older Americans, generally defined as people over the age of 65, are an important part of communities across the country. They keep tradition and history alive, and many show us that a spirited, healthy life is possible at any age. But with aging comes a variety of complications, ranging from weakened bones to failing vision. Because of this, elderly people are a group that often need a greater level of care.
Like all other age groups, older Americans deserve dignity, care, and respect. Oftentimes, it falls to younger caretakers to look out for them. Elder care becomes particularly important when we consider all the personal injury aspects that can harm our older citizens.
Slip and Falls
A slip, fall, or other mishap that occurs on someone else’s property generally goes under the “slip and fall” category of personal injury. Slip and falls can caused by any kind of dangerous condition, like a cracking step on a staircase, a slippery floor at a restaurant, or inadequate lighting in a parking lot. Slip and falls can happen anywhere, and can happen to anyone.
However, elderly people are at a higher risk. Due to the unfortunate side effects of aging, they may not be as quick and strong as they once were. They may not be able to see an obstruction or danger. Or they may not be unable to react quickly enough to avoid an injury. On top of that, aging causes the body to become weaker, increasing the potential for broken bones and other injuries. If a 20-year-old and a 70-year-old fall in the same spot as the grocery store, the 20-year-old might sustain minor bruising, while the 70-year-old could suffer from a broken hip.
Vehicle and Pedestrian Accidents
It’s possible that you have an elderly relative who really should not be driving, but insists on doing it anyway. Driving is a way for elderly people to retain dignity and independence, but in many cases, it’s best to keep them off the roads. For some elderly people, aging leads to failing vision. This is dangerous on the roads, because all drivers need to see any upcoming obstacles. In other cases, aging causes slowing or deterioration of mental capacity. Regardless of the reason, any elderly person who seems unfit to drive should hand over their keys, and allow a relative or caretaker to chauffeur them around.
Elderly Americans are also at a risk of pedestrian accidents, simply because they may not move as quickly as other pedestrians.
Abuse, Neglect, and Malpractice
When elderly Americans become too ill or injured to take care of themselves, they still deserve dignity and respect. Unfortunately, plenty do not receive dignified treatment, and become the victims of abuse or neglect.
Elder abuse is defined as “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.”
In some cases, it may be the result of malicious intentions, but it can also result from a care facility’s inadequate or negligent actions, such as understaffing, inadequate training, a breach of obligation, or improper administration or handling of medications. Common injuries that result from neglect include injuries from falls (like head injuries, broken bones, or bruises), bedsores (which develop when a person remains in one position for a long period of time, putting prolonged pressure on their skin) and overdoses from the improper handling of medication. In other cases of neglect, a person in a care facility might suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, or an untreated infection.
Since elderly people often require more medical care or emergency treatment, they are also susceptible to medical malpractice. Malpractice occurs when a doctor or other professional neglects, usually unintentionally, to provide the proper care for a patient. In older patients, medical malpractice may occur because a doctor assumes a health issue is rooted in old age, rather than a serious condition.
Happy Older Americans Month!
Do you have elderly relatives, friends, or neighbor? Celebrate Older Americans Month by discussing their needs with them, and offer to help in any ways you can. In exchange, maybe they can share some of their secrets to living a fulfilling life.
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.