In what circumstances can elderly abuse occur?
Elderly people are particularly vulnerable. Sometimes our elderly relatives may need assistance outside the family either from professionals visiting their home or by being placed in a care home. Instances of sexual and physical abuse of the elderly by those that are meant to be caring for them are not uncommon. Often the elderly person will not realise that they are being abused or may not be able to speak up about the abuse through fear or due to their medical condition.
Signs of Elderly abuse
There are many things to look out for when it comes to older or vulnerable people who may not be able to speak out about the abuse they have or are suffering and may not even realise that they are being abused. These signs include:
- Cuts, bruises and physical injuries
- Burns and scalds
- Seeming withdrawn, depressed or out of sorts
- Displaying physical signs of trauma like rocking back and forth, and crying.
- Malnourishment or weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Stopping taking part in activities they would otherwise enjoy
- Lacking basic medical aids (glasses, dentures, walking frames)
What should I do if I suspect an elderly person is being abused?
How is it possible to pursue a claim for compensation for abuse or assault on behalf of an elderly person?
Where a person is too old, infirm or mentally incapable of dealing with the case themselves we are able to take instructions from a close family member. So long as we are satisfied that the person has a close enough relationship and can act in their best interests it isn’t a problem. Our team is experienced in gathering evidence from other sources in cases where the elderly person is unable to provide their account. If independent medical evidence is needed we would use specialist medical experts, often with a background in geriatrics, who will be able to prepare a report based on records and other evidence with minimal input from the elderly person themselves.
Will bringing a claim have a negative impact on the ongoing care of the elderly person?
This is something that we get asked a lot and something that we feel often prevents loved ones from pursuing claims on behalf of their abused relatives. If an elderly relative has to remain in the same home where the abuse occurred then this is a legitimate concern. We find that in practice, however, by the time the abuse comes to light and solicitors get involved there has usually been some form of investigation or intervention by social services and the perpetrator has often moved on or the elderly person has been moved to a safer environment. In any event it should not affect the future care of the elderly person. It is important that people take action in these circumstances as it helps to safeguard others in the future.
What and when is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is held on 15th June every year. It was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011, and first recognised by the International Network of Elder Abuse (INPEA) in 2006. It is an annual event which provides the opportunity to raise awareness of abuse of our older members of society.