Article by Katy Lassetter
There have been an increasing number of elder abuse cases reported in the media over the last five years and since many people are still seeking the representation of expert personal injury solicitors on the behalf of their elderly relatives it seems that the problem isn’t lessening at all.
Did you know that around 500,000 elderly people living in the UK today are suffering some kind of abuse? This is a truly shocking number of people who are undergoing seriously degrading and brutal attacks of both a physical and psychological nature.
Many cultures such as those in parts of Asia have deep respect for their elders and grandparents are regarded as the head of the family. This is something that seems to have gone amiss in The West and often results in pain, suffering and distress for the abused and their family members and compensation claims need to be made.
Types of abuseWhen considering elder abuse, it may be domestic, institutional or may stem from self-neglect. Whether living at home, in sheltered accommodation, a residential care home or a hospice, there are a number of different types of abuse that a pensioner could suffer including:
Physical abuse – confinement such as being tied to a chair, burns injuries, beatings, cuts and indecent assault
Psychological abuse – threats, insults, harsh orders, intimidation and lack of respect
Neglect – failure to provide food, water, housing, heating, health treatment and general protection from harm
But, by far, the most serious abuse is an abuse of trust. When you reach the stage when you can no longer look after an elderly relation and you decide to get them the 24-hour care in specialist accommodation you entrust your loved one’s protection and care to another. You don’t at any time expect this protection and care will be neglected and if it was you would expect both answers and compensation.
Who abuses and why?Elder abuse could happen anywhere at any time and in most instances would be present in relationships founded on trust. Carers, nursing home staff, health professionals, neighbours, family members or anyone else that comes into close and regular contact with an elderly person could be a potential abuser.
In fact, relatives, particularly dependent relatives, are the most likely candidates. Around two thirds are abused by family members and, according to a study carried out by Help the Aged, a shocking 64% are mistreated or abused by their own sons and daughters. Spouses also make up a high percentage of elder abusers and in many cases abuse results from domestic violence that has been ongoing for years.
There are a variety of reasons why people may start to abuse the elderly. Some psychologists have put cases where carers have abused because they’re stressed. The strain of giving constant care and attention to a dependent elder has caused some carers to become overwhelmed and strike out under the pressure. This could mean that they either physically hit their charge, taunt them or neglect to give then the care they deserve.
Elderly people with dementia are not only unfortunate in that they suffer from the effects of a terrible illness but they are also among some of those most likely to suffer abuse. Dementia acts to change a patient’s personality, making them disruptive, problematic, forgetful and verbally offensive.
Other cases of nursing home abuse have been associated with a cycle of violence, meaning that people who were abused as children or have been exposed to violence for much of their lives carry out acts of violence on others as a learned problem-solving behaviour. For example, if they were beaten as a child for crying they may respond to a crying elder by beating them also.
What can be done?According to a survey of over 700 nurses carried out by the Community and District Nursing Association (CDNA), around nine in ten nurses who work in the community encounter elder abuse. One in eight stated that they came across the abuse on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Former district nurse and honorary general secretary of the CDNA Ann Keen commented, “The findings of this survey provide clear firsthand indications of the scale of elder abuse throughout the UK and serve to highlight the often difficult and sensitive working conditions under which nurses have to carry out their duties.”
Although cases have been documented in the media and organisations such as the CDNA have called for better training for nurses to help them prevent recognise and manage nursing home abuse the issue remains largely ignored. This may be related to the fact that the majority of abuse seems to occur in the home.
The first step towards reducing the amount of elderly people that undergo this disgraceful act is to increase vigilance. Staff in residential homes and the family members of those elderly patients cared for at home should keep a watchful eye on things, make sure that they monitor any suspicious behaviour, investigate the circumstances under which any unusual personal injuries appear and take care to report any suspicions of neglect or abuse to the authorities.
If it is found that a case of elder abuse has occurred, a no win no fee compensation claim for personal injury compensation under the representation of an expert personal injury solicitor could be made.
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About the Author
Katy Lassetter, Online personal injury compensation claim specialists, with a 97% claim success rate. Call 0800 197 32 32 or visit http://www.the-claim-solicitors.co.uk/personal-injury/personal-injury-solicitors-and-psychiatric-injury.htm for more details.
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