OKC Elder Physical Abuse Lawyers
Elder Physical Abuse and Neglect
As heinous as it sounds, elder abuse is very common in the United States. It is estimated that approximately one million of these fragile members of our society are abused or neglected each year by the people that are supposed to be caring for them. Only a fraction of these cases are actually reported. When it becomes impossible to care for an elderly loved one in a home setting, the best alternative is a nursing home. You should be able to expect that your loved one will be properly cared for. Sadly, many times, this is not the case. Although there are several types of nursing home abuse, the most common is physical abuse. Physical abuse accounts for 25% of all nursing home abuse on elderly residents.
Physical abuse is the use of intentional physical force or performing a physical act that results in the bodily injury, physical pain or impairment, to an elderly resident of a nursing home. It can also be the deliberate deprivation of necessary items such as food, water or medicine so that the elderly resident is physically harmed. Although physical abuse can occur from one resident to another, in the vast majority of cases, it happens at the hands of the staff members who are supposed to be caring for your loved one.
Some of the examples of behavior that would constitute physical abuse are:
- Hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, pushing, shaking
- Any unexplained injury
- Force feeding
- Unnecessary restraints, either physical or chemical
- Sexual abuse (see below)
Sexual abuse is the wrongful contact or other behavior with the genitals, breasts, or anus of a resident. "Wrongful" means that the resident did not give knowing and voluntary consent to the contact or behavior.
Some examples of sexual abuse are:
- Sexual assault or battery
- Forced nudity, exposing a residents private body parts
- Unwanted kissing, sexual touching
- Photographing or videotaping a resident's private body parts
- Coercing a resident to perform unwanted sexual acts
- Sexually harassing a resident; telling inappropriate "jokes"
- Forcing a resident to view pornographic material
Physical abuse can happen to anyone, including elderly people, regardless of their sex, race, ethnicity, or economic or social circumstances. Physical abuse includes any type of bodily injuries inflicted on a person. Physical assaults like hitting or kicking count as physical abuse, but so does restraining a person for an extended period of time or depriving them of necessary food, water, or medication. Any of these actions can cause an elderly person severe harm. In severe cases, physical abuse may even cause death.
Those who suffer such abuse and their family members have the right to seek compensation for the injuries and related losses suffered, but proving such incidents and finding justice can be a difficult task. The Oklahoma elder abuse attorneys at the Maples Law Firm can aid you and your relatives in holding at-fault parties responsible for their actions.
Recognizing Elder Physical Abuse
Relatives of elders must be on the lookout for indications that their loved one may be suffering physical abuse. Signs of possible physical abuse include:
- Injuries like bruises, bumps, cuts, scrapes, fractures, or swelling, especially if no independent accident or medical condition is known to have caused them.
- Any injury that resembles the outline of an object, like a hand or rope.
- Pain or tenderness when touched.
- Burns from heat sources or rope burns.
- Scalp wounds, bleeding, or eye problems like a detached retina.
- Fearfulness, anger, or change in behavior not explained by a medical condition that has been diagnosed by a physician, especially when aimed toward a single person.
- Physical restraint for long periods of time or when no medical emergency requiring restraint is present, or marks from the use of restraints.
- Blood, torn, or dirty clothes, body odor or dirt, matted or unkempt hair.
- Malnutrition, dehydration, or symptoms caused or made worse by not taking required medication.
The Effects of Elder Abuse
An elderly person who has suffered physical abuse may be confused and forgetful. He or she may act fearful or withdrawn, or be hesitant to talk about what happened to cause an injury. If the person tries to give an explanation, he or she may give one that doesn’t match up with the injuries the person has suffered.
Physical abuse of an elder may or may not be combined with other types of abuse. In some cases, abusers use emotional abuse to get an elder to comply with their demands or avoid telling others about the physical abuse or the injuries caused. Physical abuse may also be combined with neglect, sexual abuse, or financial abuse. Whether alone or in combination with other maltreatment, physical abuse of elderly people is a serious problem and must be stopped as soon as possible, for the safety and well-being of the elderly person.
Physical abuse of elderly people is reported more frequently than other types of elder abuse, according to the National Elder Mistreatment Study. Unfortunately, this does not mean that all or even most cases of elder physical abuse are reported; the study estimates that only 31 percent of physical abuse cases ever reach the ear of a law enforcement official, social worker, physician, or family member who can do something to stop the abuse.
Dedicated Elder Abuse Injury Attorneys
If you believe that your elderly loved one has been a victim of physical nursing home abuse, please call the experienced and compassionate Oklahoma City nursing home injury attorneys at Maples Law Firm today to discuss your case. You will receive a completely confidential and free case evaluation.
Call us toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (888) 226-6159. If you are from Oklahoma City, you can also call (405) 551-8864.