According to the National Council on Aging, about 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. Millions of our elderly are harmed in some way by a person who is supposed to care for them. What is even worse is that many cases are never reported to the authorities. A previous study found only 1 in 14 cases of abuse is reported.
To protect your loved one, whether they are living at home still or moving into a nursing home, you need to understand what elder abuse is, including all its different forms. To learn more about elder abuse and what you can do if your loved one has been harmed, call our nursing home abuse lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC. Contact us online or call us at (715) 343-2850 to schedule a free consultation.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse encompasses actions by individuals in positions of power or trust that injure individuals over the age of 60. Elder abuse can arise from both intentional acts and failures to act when necessary and appropriate. These actions either directly harm the senior or they create a risk of harm. Often, the abusers are caregivers, family members, or close friends who are expected or required to care for the elderly person. However, strangers can also inflict and be found civilly and criminally liable for elder abuse against older adults.
Types of Elder Abuse
There are many types of elder abuse that can lead to civil or criminal liability, including:
- Physical abuse
Elderly individuals are at risk for physical abuse that causes them pain, physical or mental impairments, distress, bodily injury, and death. These injuries can result from minor-to-severe assaults and inappropriate physical or chemicals restraints. Common physical abuse against seniors includes slapping, kicking, shaking, and burning.
Elderly individuals can be physically injured or put at extreme risk for adverse medical events by a caregiver’s failure to care for them. Neglect can include failing to bathe the senior, nourish them properly, wash their clothes and bedding, keep their home clean and free from insects and vermin, and give them the correct medicine and dose at the necessary times.
- Psychological abuse
Seniors can suffer serious injury without being physically harmed. Psychological abuse consists of emotional distress and mental anguish cause by an individual’s verbal and non-verbal conduct, including threats, humiliation, shame, isolation, manipulation, and control.
- Sexual abuse
Elderly people, particularly women, are at a high risk for sexual abuse, which encompasses any non-consensual sexual contact with the older person by another individual’s body or with an object. Sexual abuse does not have to include penetration, though any amount of this without consent is sexual abuse. Assault can include touching the groin area, thighs, buttocks, and breasts directly or over the clothing for the purposes of sexual arousal. It is also important to note that many elderly people cannot consent to sexual contact because they have been deemed mentally incompetent, are heavily medicated, or because they are non-communicative and cannot indicate consent. Any sexual contact with a person suffering from one of these conditions is abuse.
- Financial abuse
Caretakers, family members, individuals within the community, and even strangers can financially exploit seniors. Sometimes it is through improper use of the elderly person’s funds, fraudulent scams, or outright theft. Financial abuse can also occur when family members and friends coerce elderly people into giving them money or property or transferring property into their names.
Civil Liability for Elder Abuse
If your loved one has been harmed due to another individual’s abuse, they may have the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation. If the abuser is an independent individual, the suit may be against that one person. If the abuser was a staff member of a care provider or facility then liability may fall onto the corporate entity. In this situation, your loved one may file suit against the abuser and their employer.
During a civil liability lawsuit, your loved one can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Wage loss
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of society and companionship
Criminal Liability for Elder Abuse
Wisconsin does not have a specific elder law, but many forms of elder abuse are also crimes. For instance, hitting or kicking an elderly individual is assault. A caregiver appropriating the senior’s funds without consent for their own personal benefit is theft. A stranger who scams an elderly person into sending them money may be guilty of fraud.
If your loved one has been hurt by or lost money because of another person, speak with our attorneys about whether there is evidence of a crime. This may need to be reported to the police to ensure justice is served and that the abuser cannot hurt anyone else.
Contact A Wisconsin Elder Abuse Attorney for Help
If you are concerned for your elderly loved one, contact Studinski Law, LLC immediately. It is our main priority to ensure that your family member or friend is properly cared for. If they have been injured, we will help you improve their situation and hold the abuser responsible for their actions. We will also strive to uphold your loved one’s right to compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury litigation.
Call us at (715) 343-2850 to schedule a time to discuss the situation during a free and confidential consultation.