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Elder Neglect

Elder Neglect Lawyer Serving Illinois

Senior citizens in our country are a particularly vulnerable group, particularly those with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other cognitive impairments. Elder neglect and abuse can be the result of the mental and physical condition of the victim, as well as a complex combination of economic, social, and psychological factors. Elder neglect can be perpetrated by a spouse, the adult children of the elderly person, other family members, or even “friends” of the elderly person.

When the neglect comes from adult children, they could be dependent on their elderly parent for financial assistance, housing, and other forms of support. The necessity for this financial assistance is sometimes related to dysfunctional personality characteristics, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or some form of mental illness. When this is the case, the risk for elder neglect and abuse is particularly high. When an elderly person is socially isolated, his or her risk for neglect or abuse rises as well. More and more often, elderly victims are neglected and abused in nursing homes and assisted living facilities—the very places you might assume they would be safe.

Finding out your loved one is the victim of neglect can be devastating. You may not know where to turn or what to do. The Finn Law Firm can help you through this difficult time. While the firm is based in Chicago, Larry Finn serves the Northern Illinois region including the cities of Waukegan, Joliet, Geneva, Woodstock, Rockford, Sycamore, Yorkville, Morris, Kankakee, Ottawa. Springfield, Peoria, Edwardsville, and Belleville.  If a nursing home or assisted living facility is responsible for the neglect, we will discuss the options for keeping your loved one safe and can assist you in filing a claim for financial compensation. We understand the trauma elder neglect can cause and will be beside you every step of the way as we work to make things right for the victim of elder neglect. 

The Signs & Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse

Statistics on Elder Neglect

According to nursinghomeabuse.org, since most victims of elder neglect are unable or unwilling to report their abuse, it is difficult to know just how often neglect and abuse occur. It is estimated that at least one out of every ten people over the age of 60 have suffered some type of nursing home neglect or abuse, yet studies suggest that less than one in 25 actually report the abuse or neglect.

Among elderly victims who self-report, about 15 percent report “gross” neglect, 27 percent report physical abuse, 60 percent report verbal abuse, nearly eight percent report financial exploitation,  20 percent report psychological abuse, and another eight percent report sexual abuse (some victims report more than one type of abuse or neglect).

When caretakers fail to provide the basic necessities of life to an elderly person (food, housing, medicine, or basic hygiene), neglect is present. Dementia or other cognitive impairments significantly increases the risk of neglect, with about 50 percent of those with dementia being neglected. In a nursing home or assisted living situation, ongoing understaffing, employee stress, and lack of comprehensive background checks all contribute to the neglect of the elderly.

What is Elder Neglect?

Elder neglect, unlike abuse, often concerns omissions, rather than specific, intentional acts. These omissions occur when a caregiver:

  • Fails to provide adequate food and nutrition, or fails to assist in eating when necessary;
  • Fails to provide proper healthcare;
  • Fails to provide enough water to prevent dehydration;
  • Fails to provide necessary medications;
  • Fails to provide for mental health needs;
  • Fails to protect from health and safety hazards, or
  • Fails to provide necessary assistance to bathe or engage in other personal hygiene tasks;

Since many seniors are unable to accomplish these tasks on their own, neglect can leave them in serious danger. Forcing an elderly person to live in an unsanitary or potentially harmful condition can create not only physical problems but mental problems as well. Psychological neglect occurs when an elderly person is left alone for long periods of time, with no social contact or activities.

How are the Elderly Affected by Neglect?

Neglect of an elderly person can have long-term effects on their health and well-being. The extent of those effects will vary from person to person and will depend on the situation. Elderly persons who have significant emotional support from friends and family are likely to feel as though they have more control over the situation, therefore, the long-term consequences of neglect may not be as severe as for those who have no support. The health effects of neglect may be less obvious, including sleeping difficulties, stomach issues, breathing problems, dehydration, or malnutrition.

Unfortunately, many signs of neglect may be ignored, mistaken as a part of aging. Older adults who are neglected may lose interest in their life or may experience depression or even suicidal thoughts. Seniors who live with abuse and neglect have a much greater risk of getting sick and dying sooner than those who are not abused or neglected. The stress of neglect can also worsen existing health concerns. Neglect can also cause older adults to feel stressed, worried, and anxious, or even to feel guilt, shame, or embarrassment, thinking they are somehow responsible for the neglect. 

What are the Signs of Neglect?

It can sometimes be difficult to recognize neglect when it is not obvious. Some of the potential signs of elder neglect include the following:

  • Bedsores, which can occur when the elderly person cannot turn themselves over in bed or are left in a wheelchair for hours on end;
  • Untreated medical or mental conditions;
  • Unsafe housing;
  • Absence of food, water, heat or air conditioning;
  • Unexplained worsening of a mental condition;
  • Insufficient space or ventilation;
  • Obvious signs of rodents or insects;
  • Medication mismanagement;
  • Unexplained loss of weight;
  • Dehydration (evidenced by low urinary output, mental confusion, lack of energy, fragile skin or dry, sore mouth);
  • Poor personal hygiene;
  • Improper clothing for the weather;
  • Withdrawal;
  • Agitation;
  • Nightmares;
  • Absence of necessary glasses, hearing aids, walkers, braces or other assistive devices, and 

The Finn Law Firm Fights Elder Neglect

If you suspect your loved one is being neglected by a caretaker, there are a number of avenues you can explore. You may want to contact your county’s Adult Protective Services office or a medical professional who is familiar with your loved one and can assess his or her current health and mental status. If a nursing home or assisted living facility is responsible for the neglect, you could potentially benefit from speaking to an Illinois attorney who is experienced dealing with elder neglect and abuse.

When those you entrusted the care of your loved one to have violated that trust, the Finn Law Firm can help. You will speak directly to the firm’s principal attorney, Larry Finn, throughout the development of your claim. Larry Finn has more than thirty years of experience and will provide a comprehensive consultation, clearly laying out your options. While located in Chicago, the firm serves many Illinois cities including the Waukegan, Joliet, Geneva, Woodstock, Rockford, Sycamore, Yorkville, Morris, Kankakee, Ottawa, Springfield, Peoria, Edwardsville, and Belleville areas. The firm also has the experience and is able to work with victims of elder neglect outside the state of Illinois, contact the Finn Law Firm today to learn more about how Larry can help you.

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