How Your Loved One’s Dementia Makes Them More Susceptible to Abuse
January 21st, 2016
Experienced Elder Abuse Lawyer Assisting Dementia Victims and their Families throughout MA & RI
As our parents age, the development of dementia is not uncommon. There are various levels of dementia, with the most serious types associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It is difficult to watch a parent deteriorate mentally as the condition advances. The current estimate is that there there are in the range of 5.1 million people in the USA who suffer from dementia.
We are entering an era in which a much larger segment of the population is over 65 than at any time in U.S. history — around 45 million, or about 14.1% of the population, as reported by the U.S. Department of Health. Many people are dealing with the need to place a parent with dementia in a nursing home, where it is hoped he or she will be safe and cared for. Sadly, elderly persons with dementia face a far higher risk of nursing home abuse.
Nursing Home Residents with Dementia: How Abuse Happens
A person with dementia has lost some level of cognitive ability. Some cannot speak, while others have lost the ability to clearly communicate, or do not have the capacity to report acts of nursing home abuse. Fear of retribution can come into play, as abusers may use threats to keep victims silent. If you have placed a loved one with dementia in a nursing home, you have very real reason for concern.
A report cited by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) revealed that close to 50% of people with dementia have been the victim of some type of elder abuse. The breakdown on percentages of the types of abuse inflicted by caregivers are reported as follows:
- Verbal abuse — 60%
- Physical abuse — 5% to 10%
- Neglect — 14%
People with dementia can be very difficult to manage. The symptoms often make it necessary for children to place a parent under care in a nursing home. Caregivers hired by nursing homes may be overworked and underpaid, and many have had limited training. When a nursing home resident exhibits certain behaviors, some nursing home employees respond with violence, or choose to keep the patient restrained in bed, left neglected, unfed, unclean, and more likely to develop bedsores or other medical problems.
A once-productive member of society can spend the final years suffering abuse, restrained, punished, beaten, or emotionally abused, or become a victim of a combination of abusive actions. Any family that has placed a loved one in a nursing home should be alert to the signs of nursing home abuse, particularly for a loved one who has dementia. According to the NCEA, signs of elder abuse may include:
- slap, pressure, burn or blister marks
- withdrawal from normal activities or a change in alertness
- bruises around breasts or genital areas
- sudden changes in finances and accounts
- lack of personal hygiene such as untreated bedsores, poor dental care, unclean clothing, overgrown hair or nails, or unusual weight loss or gain.
At the Bottaro Law Firm, we stand up and fight for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are zealous advocates for the elderly who have been victims of nursing home abuse. If you have concerns about the health and wellbeing of your loved one, and have seen signs of elder abuse, we urge you to contact us immediately.