What do you think of when you hear the term “elder abuse”? Maybe you picture an older woman developing bed sores from neglect in a nursing home or a phone scammer taking advantage of a man with dementia. Maybe you imagine the people who harm the elderly are actually their caregivers.
While all of those scenarios can and do occur, they don’t represent the complex range and severity of abuse that older adults suffer nationwide. Let’s take a look at facts and myths…
Myth: If an older person is being abused physically, it will be obvious.
Fact: Abuse may be invisible.
When thinking about abuse, nearly everyone immediately pictures bruises, broken bones, and other types of physical injury. However, negligence is the most common type of abuse. Emotional abuse and financial exploitation happen frequently too.
Another problem: Some people may interpret bruises and other physical signs of abuse as the result of age-related issues, such as an increased risk of falls, or an older adult who is being denied food may lose weight, but loved ones and even doctors may assume that’s due to other physical ailments.
Myth: Smart, well-educated seniors do not fall for scams.
Fact: Con artists know how to fool all types of people.
Many times these scammers target a senior because they are oftentimes more vulnerable. They may receive a phone call that a grandson is in legal trouble or needs emergency surgery in another country, then is directed to wire thousands of dollars to help the grandson. In a panic, the money is sent, only to later realize it was a fake scenario. Scammers may also take advantage of a senior’s lack of technology knowledge or poise themselves as the IRS, or other company, looking for money.
Myth: The law does not protect seniors.
Fact: Across the country there are laws that specifically forbid elder abuse.
These laws prohibit the physical, mental, emotional, or financial abuse of a person over the age of 65. In Pennsylvania, abuse of the elderly can result in costly fines and years of jail time, or possibly a felony charge.
You should report suspected elder abuse to your local law enforcement agency right away. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
At Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., we work with families to help seek compensation if their loved one has suffered elder abuse. For a free consultation with our team of attorneys, contact us today.