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, an aging population and the increase in home elderly care, adult day care, and assisted living centers means that more people are relying on others to care for their parents, grandparents, and friends. With children, people tend to take more precaution and are concerned with abuse. However, spiraling rates of elder mistreatment are reported by both practitioners and researchers. As noted by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse: United States
There were 253,421 reports of abuse of adults age 60+ or 832.6 reports for every 100,000 people over the age of 60. The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study (National Center on Elder Abuse, 1998) found that more than 500,000 persons aged 60+ were victims of domestic abuse and that an estimated 84% of incidents are not reported to authorities, denying victims the protection and support they need. Elder abuse is estimated to cost Americans tens of billions of dollars annually in health care, social services, investigative and legal costs, and lost income and assets.
Obviously, people should take this issue as seriously as child care or child abuse. Like child abuse, the warning signs are similar. Here are just a few, courtesy of the National Center of Elder Abuse:
· Physical Abuse - Slap marks, unexplained bruises, most pressure marks, and certain types of burns or blisters, such as cigarette burns
· Neglect - Pressure ulcers, filth, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration
· Emotional Abuse - Withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, or other unusual behavioral changes
· Sexual Abuse - Bruises around the breasts or genital area and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
· Financial Abuse/Exploitation - Sudden change in finances and accounts, altered wills and trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, checks written as “loans” or “gifts,” and loss of property
The challenge that many people face, both with child and elder abuse, is that the abuse is often difficult to identify and goes unreported by the abused. With elders in particular, they may live in assisted living centers in communities where no immediate family is available. Consequently, the ability for family members to “keep tabs” on the care given by providers is reduced. Alternatively, they may live with a family member who does not provide adequate care or is emotionally abusive.
Of course, this is a sensitive subject. However, assessments of care centers and investigations into potential abuse by relatives should not be avoided. While there are many resources available once abuse has been identified, there are not many resources available to people who simply suspect abuse.
One available resource is a local private investigator. Utilizing a wide variety of investigative skills and expertise, along with some rights and privileges provided by state licensure, private investigators can give clients knowledge and assurance that a loved one is properly cared for. Here are just a few things a private investigator can do:
· Conduct pre-care investigations into companies or individuals.
· Provide consistent “assessment checks” to assure that the quality of service, cleanliness, employee morale, and mental and physical health of those being cared for has not declined. (This is a particular good option when families do not nearby.)
· Conduct full investigations and surveillance into suspicions or knowledge of ongoing abuse.
If you suspect that someone you know may be suffering from elderly abuse and would like to know more about what a private investigator can do to assist you, please contact me for a free consultation. You can hold care providers legally and civilly accountable for their mistreatment, neglect, or abuse of the elderly.