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Why Does Elder Abuse Exist?

Posted in Nursing Home Abuse on March 27, 2018

Elder abuse victims and their loved ones often want to know the answer to one question: why does it happen? Many reasons may be behind any one elder abuse case in Baltimore. The people involved, the type of abuse, and the location of the incident may point to a probable reason in some cases. In others cases, elder abuse is unintentional and stems from shortcomings within the system. Discovering why elder abuse exists could help you get answers for your individual case in Maryland.

Prejudices Against the Elderly

Some elder abuse cases stem from deep-seated prejudices against the elderly or discrimination against a protected class, such as race or gender. Caretakers in charge of the elderly might abuse or neglect their tenants as a way to “punish” them for being old or for other reasons. Lack of sensitivity training in nursing home settings can increase the risk of prejudice-based abuse and neglect in institutions. It might point to discrimination-based abuse or harassment if someone abuses only a certain class, race, gender, or type of person.

Abuse of Power

Physical and sexual elder abuse often arise from the abuse of power. Abuse of power over an elderly individual refers to letting the need or desire for control take over one’s decision-making abilities. Having power over a helpless, defenseless, or incapacitated senior citizen can go to a perpetrator’s head, resulting in abuse. Gender-related abuses of power are the most common in elder abuse cases. Abuse of power could result in harms such as:

  • Physical injuries
  • Neglect or malnutrition
  • Bedsores and infections
  • Mental or emotional abuse
  • Psychological damage
  • Sexual harassment or assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial exploitation

Failing health, physical weakness, and mental conditions make the elderly prone to abuses of power from caretakers. Signs of abuse of power can include bruising, unexplained injuries, excessive use of restraints, and behavior changes such as mood swings, depression, or anxiety. The perpetrator might not let the victim talk to his or her family members and may isolate the individual from friends and the community.

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Elder abuse might be spontaneous rather than premeditated. A nursing home employee, caretaker, or even a friend or family member might abuse an elder’s rights as a way of taking advantage of a sudden opportunity. For example, if a caretaker unexpectedly stumbles upon a store of cash in an elderly person’s home, he or she might decide on the spot to financially exploit or steal from the individual. Proper supervision of the elderly and of their belongings, bank accounts, assets, and wills can help prevent this source of elder abuse.

Lack of Skill or Support

Elder abuse within a nursing home or long-term living facility may point to issues within the establishment. Elder abuse in institutional settings might not be intentional, but rather stem from negligence or lack of support from management. Employees might lack the skill or knowledge to properly care for the elderly population. Others might be ignorant to the special needs of the elderly. Inadequate funding, lack of supervision, and improper training can all result in negligence-based elder abuse in Maryland. In these cases, the institution could be liable for damages.

Mental Health Problems or Addictions

Perpetrators may suffer from mental health problems, anti-social behaviors, or drug/alcohol problems that culminate in abusive tendencies toward an elderly person. Someone going through high stress, substance withdrawal, or difficult times may be more likely to take their frustrations out on an elderly resident or family member. A cycle of abuse and violence could perpetuate abuse within a family. In other situations, addicted individuals may abuse the elderly for money to purchase drugs or alcohol. Regardless of why elder abuse exists, take action on behalf of an abused loved one in your life. Discuss your rights with a Maryland lawyer.