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Could elder neglect affect a loved one?

All senior citizens have a risk of being mistreated, but there are certain risk factors, impacts and perpetrators that make the abuse more likely.

Kentucky residents may not realize how many senior citizens are affected by abuse and neglect because this crime is often silent because it takes place behind closed doors. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, there were 30,037 reports made in a single year by citizens concerned for the wellbeing of an adult over the age of 60. Of those reports, there were 12,618 cases where an adult protective services investigation was made. While this type of abuse is not an everyday occurrence, it does happen and it could happen to anyone.

What are the risks?

Some seniors have a higher risk of being financially, emotionally or physically abused. For example, someone who has lived through interpersonal or domestic violence in the past may have a higher risk of being abused again. Other potential risk factors include the following:

  • Lower income
  • No family support
  • Diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's
  • Poor physical health
  • Limited mobility

An elderly person who lives with his or her spouse or a single child may have a lower risk for being abused than someone who lives with a large family or in an assisted living center.

What are the impacts?

Any type of mistreatment can have serious impacts on the victim. For example, an older, immobile person who is neglected may develop bed sores, dental problems and nutritional issues. Not to mention other physical issues that could result from abuse, such as bruises, broken bones and welts. Not all of the effects are physical.

Some senior citizens may struggle with financial issues, psychological distress and social isolation because of the way they are mishandled. Others may have a higher risk of being hospitalized or developing new illnesses. If a loved one is being victimized, there could be a plethora of outward signs for family members and neighbors to see.

Who are the perpetrators?

Understanding the typical traits of an abuser can help family members keep their loved ones out of danger. Many people may think care aides, like those at senior living centers, are the most likely to be mistreating older people. However, the National Center on Elder Abuse states that 57.9 percent of elder abuse cases involved a family member, such as an adult child or a spouse, while only 14.9 percent involved a home care aide. In these cases, perpetrators are more likely to be male, be undergoing major stresses, have a history with substance abuse and have a troubled past with police.

Elder abuse can take on many different forms in Kentucky. No matter what type of abuse or neglect a person is dealing with, it may be beneficial to work with an attorney who is familiar with these types of cases.