Caregivers and Elder Abuse

Tampa health care fraud lawyerAbuse of the elderly has long been a problem throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. Aside from young children, our elder loved ones are the most vulnerable to both physical and mental harm; thus, predatory behavior even among those given care of the elderly is prevalent. If you believe your elderly loved one is a victim of abuse, it is vital that you hire a Tampa elder abuse attorney.

Caregiver Elder Abuse Defined
A caregiver is an abuser if his or her willful actions or negligence brings physical or emotional harm to an elderly patient. As a Tampa elder abuse lawyer will tell you, the problem of elder abuse is very serious. In one five-year period (2000-2005) 87,422 cases of elder physical abuse alone were reported (National Incident-Based Reporting System). Many incidents are never reported because the elder patient is afraid of retaliation or is too ill to communicate the abuse.

There are five general categories of elder abuse:

• Physical abuse
• Emotional abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Financial abuse
• Negligence

It is a sad commentary on our society, indeed, that those who are entrusted with the care of our elder loved ones so often are the very ones who harm them.

Evidence of Caregiver Elder Abuse and Neglect

When you meet with your Tampa elder abuse attorney, he will ask you what led you to believe your loved one is being abused. Keep in mind that the victim may not willingly be forthcoming about any abuse, so don’t assume everything is fine. There are a number of warning signs to look for, however, such as:

• Unexplained marks on the face, arms, neck, chest
• Withdrawal
• Fear of being left at the facility
• Crying, agitation
• Dirty bedding or bath facilities

Causes of Caregiver Elder Abuse

One of the questions clients of a Tampa elder abuse lawyer most often asks is why? Why would a person who has trained for and accepted a job caring for the elderly become an abuser? One obvious answer is that the person was a predator from the start and saw this as an opportunity for financial gain through mishandling of patient accounts and money. Evidence suggests, though, that the job, itself, often leads to predatory behavior. Some factors contributing to the problem are:

• Caregiver burn out: Nursing homes are woefully understaffed. Many who are hired lack sufficient training.
• Stress of responsibility: Caring for elderly patients is often difficult and stressful.
• Personal problems: A caregiver may be going through a difficult time at home, such as a divorce.
• Disassociation leading to a lack of compassion: After a time some caregivers lose sense of the fact that the elderly patients are human beings with a need for dignity and respect.
• History of alcohol or drug abuse
• History of depression or mental illness

None of this excuses predatory behavior which brings harm to an elderly patient. However, it is useful to keep in mind that many caregivers begin their careers with good intentions.

If You Believe Your Loved One Is a Victim of Caregiver Abuse

It is vital that you consult with a Tampa elder abuse attorney if you believe that your loved one has been victimized by a caregiver. Call Peter Giroux today at (727) 895-5399.

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