Elder Abuse is an Underreported Crime

Statistics in Southern California suggest that elder abuse is an extremely underreported crime, which means that many older adults suffer injuries while their abuses go unpunished. A recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News reported that Los Angeles officials recently indicated that the city will take greater efforts to protect the elderly from nursing home abuse. How will these new measures work? In short, millions of dollars in funding are going to flow in from the Department of Justice and the Verizon Corporation.

DSC_5767Elder Abuse Prevention Grants to the City of Los Angeles

Will San Diego be able to get the kind of funding that Los Angeles recently received? Grants totaling $1.6 million were provided in Los Angeles primarily to train police officers to recognize signs and symptoms of elder abuse—a skill that officials hope will lead to more abuse and neglect reporting. Last year, the Los Angeles Police Department saw a shockingly low number of elder abuse reports—only 100. To place that number in perspective, the LAPD received more than 11,000 claims of domestic violence reports in 2013.

Why do police officers need to receive such special training? First, elder abuse often is committed at the hands of the elderly person’s family members and caregivers. Without outside assistance, those older adults may continue to suffer injuries from elder abuse. And in cases where family members call the police to investigate claims of abuse and neglect at nursing homes, it is extremely important that those officers know what to look for. City Attorney Mike Feuer explained that there are “gaps” in the elder abuse focus on Los Angeles, and the funds are intended to help close those gaps.

Identifying Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse

What will these new programs that are supposed to help law enforcement officers identify signs of elder abuse and nursing home neglect look like? Both private sector and nonprofit organizations are partnering up to “help law enforcement attune to impalpable signals that could indicate mistreatment of this vulnerable population.”

What are some signs and symptoms of elder abuse that might not be obvious? According to the Administration on Aging (AoA), bruising or other signs of physical injury such as pressure marks, abrasions, and burns can all create cause for concern. In addition, it is important to keep an eye out for a change in an elderly person’s behavior. If your parent suddenly seems withdrawn from normal activities, seems less alert, or appears depressed, you may be dealing with an emotional abuse situation. In addition to abuse, you should learn to identify symptoms of neglect, which can range widely from severe bedsores to poor hygiene.

Elder abuse is much too common, and many cases go unreported because loved ones are not able to recognize the signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect or abuse. If you have reason to believe that your parent suffered an injury because of elder abuse, contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney today to learn more about how we can help.

Image Credit: kconnors via morgueFile

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