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Who Is Most Likely to Commit Elder Abuse?

Old woman with dementia and or Alzheimer's is neglected in nursing home

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The most likely perpetrators of elder abuse and neglect are adult children and/or spouses who live with the elderly person, and caregivers that provide care in the home or nursing home facility.

Elderly Adults Face Risks of Abuse and Neglect

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elder abuse is a growing problem across the country since millions of baby boomers are now 65 years old and older. NCEA statistics on elder abuse show that one in six elderly adults over the age of 60 suffer some type of abuse by family members and/or caregivers. In home settings, perpetrators are often adult children, spouses, and home health aides. In nursing homes and long-term care facilities, perpetrators are most often caregivers working in the facility.

NCEA defines elder abuse as some type of physical or emotional mistreatment that causes harm to the victim. Elder abuse can be experienced in the form of physical attacks; verbal abuse; rape and sexual assaults; neglect of basic needs; and financial exploitation. Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers see serious physical injuries caused by slapping, hitting, pushing, shoving, and sexual assaults.

Elder abuse often results in physical injuries such as cuts, abrasions, fractures, and broken bones which may never heal properly. Emotional and sexual abuse can result in long-lasting psychological consequences such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Even minor injuries to elderly adults can cause serious and permanent damage or death. Studies on elder abuse show that victims are twice as likely to die prematurely than people who are not victims of elder abuse.

Risk Factors

Whether elder abuse occurs in home settings or in nursing home facilities, certain individuals are at higher risk for mistreatment by others. Major risk factors include:

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Physical disabilities
  • Social isolation
  • Shared living spaces
  • Poorly trained caregivers
  • Caregivers with a history of drugs, alcohol, or violence

NCEA studies show that perpetrators of physical abuse who live with the victim or provide regular care often have a history of violent behaviors, problems with the police, psychological issues, and substance abuse.

Unfortunately, many caregivers who work with the elderly are not properly screened with background checks, so many of these risk factors that contribute to abuse slip through the cracks. When elder abuse is suspected, it should be reported to proper Illinois authorities or nursing home abuse lawyers who can investigate claims and take protective and preventative actions.

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