Although estimates vary, it is generally believed that 4-6% of the elderly are subject to abuse. According to the National Incidence Study on Elder Abuse, approximately 450,000 elderly experience abuse each year in nationwide. The scale of the problem is massive and it comes as a relief that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently signed into law the Elder Abuse Prevention Act.
The bill is designed to prevent and prosecute those that engage in elder abuse. Senator Tammy Irons of Florence, Alabama spent the better part of three years fighting to make the Act a reality. Senator Irons said, “I am grateful that Governor Bentley realized the importance of protecting our senior citizens and signed my bill into law this session. This is the first step in protecting our senior citizens from abuse in all of its disgusting forms–physical, emotional and financial.”
The law will result in the creation of new governmental and non-governmental agencies that will work together to help prevent elder abuse from occurring in the first place and then working to punish those that engage in the practice.
As elders become more physically frail, they’re less able to stand up to bullying and are less capable of fighting back if attacked. They may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they used to, leaving openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them. Elder abuse also takes many different forms, some involving intimidation or threats of violence, physical and emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial exploitation.
Though not all forms of abuse are easily recognizable, physical violence is more easily detected. Some signs of physical abuse to watch out for include the following:
• Watch out for bruises, wounds and cigarette burns. Also look for signs of unnecessary physical restraint like handcuff marks.
• Look for a lack of physical grooming, such as dirty or uncombed hair, unwashed clothes, body odor and a generally unkempt appearance.
• Bedsores, signs of malnutrition and dehydration are also other signs of abuse.
While physical abuse is easier to detect, mental abuse can be quite difficult to spot. Look for signs of anxiety, edginess, and fear. If an elder you know seems tense or withdrawn, find out if there’s a problem you should know about.
The Huntsville elder abuse attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C. understand the unique challenges that often accompany the aging process. This understanding allows them to serve as skillful advocates in the event that abuse has occurred. Contact our compassionate injury attorneys today if suspect something is wrong with a senior you love.
Source: “Governor Bentley signs Elder Abuse Prevention Act,” by Mary Howard, published at WSFA.com.