Elder Abuse Lawyer Services in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia

An attorney should always be consulted if you or someone you know has received any injury as the result of abuse, especially if that person is an elder. As the population of the United States ages, the demand placed on families to care for their elderly relatives, or to place them in an assisted living facility, is also increasing. The 2010 Census indicates that by 2050, 20% of the population will be 65 years or older, 19 million of which will be 85 years or older. While many of these seniors might be placed in an assisted living facility, most will remain under the care and supervision of a family member. This means extra responsibility for a person who could already be balancing a full time job and family of his or her own. For many families, this extra responsibility can be viewed as a burden and many elders face the risk of being mistreated by their caregivers and receiving serious injuries as the result of that mistreatment.

The Administration on Aging, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, defines “elder abuse” as “intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder”. Elder abuse can be institutional (i.e. it takes place in a nursing home or other assisted living facility), but a majority of elder abuse is domestic, meaning that it takes place under the supervision of a family member. Unfortunately, since most elder abuse is not reported, there is no way of knowing the exact number of elders that are being injured as the result of abuse or neglect.

There are several different types of elder abuse. Neglect, or failure to provide life necessities, is the most prevalent form of elder abuse and can result in severe injuries or death. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse is also common and can also result in serious injuries, anguish and pain. Exploitation, the illegal handling of funds, property and/or assets; abandonment, or desertion; and self-neglect, or the failure of an elder to care for his or her own self, are other types of abuse that elders can face.

Domestic abuse can be hard to detect in any situation, but it can be especially hard to detect in the case of domestic elder abuse. Threats for further harm can deter an elder from reporting abuse to the authorities, as well as an inability to report the incident and fear of getting the abuser in trouble. Signs of abuse can include unexplained injuries such as bruises, breaks, or weight loss, withdrawal from normal activities, sudden changes in finances, poor hygiene, unnecessary threats and obvious tense relationships between the caregiver and elderly person.

If you suspect elder abuse is occurring, you should contact the authorities and legal counsel immediately. Each state legislature has some form of elder abuse prevention law. If you are an elder being abused, or know of an elder being abused, in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, contact the lawyers at Injury Law Education Center, P.C. to learn what your rights and options are.