Although, there are laws in place, elder abuse continues in staggering numbers.

Elder abuse is a major problem, be it physical, mental or financial. Be aware that elder abuse or neglect can occur at any time, in any community, at any economic level, among all races and nationalities. Federal and state laws now affirm everyone's right to be safe; no one has to tolerate abusive situations.  Federal and state laws also protect older adults who lack the capacity to protect themselves and are at immediate risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment. Although, there are laws in place, elder abuse continues in staggering numbers.

A Seattle Times investigation has found, cover-ups by adult family homes are not unusual. The Times found that over the past five years, at least 357 of the adult family homes in Washington State have concealed cases of abuse or neglect of their residents. Many of those cases involved serious injury or death.

Untrained or unlicensed caregivers mishandled residents' medications, sometimes giving them fatal overdoses. In other cases, residents became ill after being denied basic care and hygiene. A Seattle man died from infection after his catheter was not changed or sterilized for four months.

In many cases, these caregivers tried to conceal abuse or neglect by forging medical records, lying to state investigators or threatening residents with eviction if they provided witness statements.

Worse yet, The Times found, even when DSHS was notified of an incident of abuse or neglect, as required by state law, the agency many times failed to adequately investigate.

Signs of Abuse or Neglect

Abuse can be any one or more of the following:

v      infliction of injury;

v      unreasonable confinement;

v      intimidation;

v      any punishment that results in physical harm;

v      causing mental anguish;

v      depriving food, necessary medication or medical services;

v      sexual harassment;

v      rape;

v      any physically or emotionally controlling behavior that restricts independence or activity.

            Elder abuse and neglect is not always easy to identify; signs to consider include:

v      bruises and broken bones blamed on fall; the real cause may be pinching or beating.

v      weight loss might be a result of starvation or neglect; not just illness or lack of  appetite;

v      dementia is not always a part of aging; malnutrition or the misuse of medications can also be causes.

The Maryland Medicaid Fraud Control Division of the Office of the Attorney General prosecutes dozens of cases of patient abuse in nursing home facilities each year, ranging from sexual assaults to cases of neglect resulting in injury and even death. The Office also provides education and training to help family members and providers spot abuse when it is occurring.

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