Washington State’s 9th Annual Conference on Abuse of Elders and Adults with Disabilities took place this month in King County. The purpose of the day- long conference was to raise awareness among professionals and residents about the issues surrounding elder abuse.
In response to the growing problem, King County has created a special unit, referred to as the “Elder Abuse team,” to investigate cases of elder abuse. Although the Yakima Valley area does not have a special unit as of yet, elder abuse remains a crime anywhere in the State of Washington. If you are the loved one of an elderly individual, you should be aware of the problem and know what to do if you suspect that your loved one is being abused.
Elderly Americans are, in many ways, as vulnerable as young children. Physical and mental deterioration often leaves elderly individuals unable to defend themselves from perpetrators of abuse. Sadly, the people who are charged with caring for the elderly are frequently the same people who abuse them. Consider some of the following statistics provided by the National Center on Elder Abuse:
- Between one and two million Americans ages 65 or older have been mistreated or exploited by a caregiver.
- In domestic settings, it is estimated that only one in 14 incidents of neglect is ever brought to the attention of authorities.
- Financial abuse is even less likely to be reported – one in 25 cases
- Physical abuse is the most common type reported; however, abuse can also take the form of neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse.
Determining the extent of the problem is difficult for two reasons. First, there is no uniform system throughout the states for defining, much less reporting, elder abuse. In addition, experts believe that substantial numbers of abuse cases are not reported because the victim feels ashamed or is so dependent on the abuser that he or she fears the consequences of reporting the abuse more than the abuse itself.
What to Do If You Suspect Abuse
If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused, there are steps you can take to help. First and foremost, be patient and understanding with your loved one. Try to get him or her to confide in you about the abuse. Keep track of physical and behavioral signs of the abuse. To report suspected elder abuse in Yakima County, call 877-389-3013. To report suspected mistreatment in long-term care facilities, call 800-562-6078.
If your elderly loved one has been abused in a nursing home or other long-term facility, you may have grounds for a civil lawsuit. Contact the Yakima Valley elder abuse attorneys at Mariano Morales Law to ensure that your loved one is protected from any further abuse. Reach the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.