Elder Abuse is when intentional or negligent actions by an entrusted caregiver cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. The caregiver may fail to satisfy the vulnerable adult's basic needs or fail to protect them from harm. Elder abuse can be physical or emotional and often involves abandonment or negligence.
The elderly, disabled and incompetent are most times vulnerable, frail and do not have the mental capability to report the abuse. So defending and protecting themselves can be a challenge. Studies found on www.HelpGuide.org show that over 500,000 elderly abuse cases in the United States are reported every year.
What Are the Symptoms of Elder Abuse?
• Broken bones, cuts, scars, bruises, scratches and bed sores
• Unexplained weight loss
• Odors on loved ones clothes or bedding
• Neglected hair and nails
• Distinct Mood change (use to be happy and now miserable every time you visit)
• Premature Death
What Are Some of the Arizona Laws Related to Elder Abuse?
Arizona Revised Statute 13-3623 If the caregivers actions are considered to be the cause of a serious injury to the victim, it is considered a Class 2 felony in Arizona. If they cause serious injury recklessly it is a Class 3 felony. A serious injury is considered as anything that could result in death or disfigurement or the loss of any bodily function, organ or limb. Emotional abuse is a Class 6 felony. Health care providers who perform lifesaving or pain-easing treatment that have been directly requested by the patient are exempt from this statute.
Arizona Revised Statute 46-454 This is a mandatory reporting statue that states anyone who is responsible for the care of a vulnerable adult must report to authorities if they suspect that any abuse has occurred. This is not limited to physical evidence like bruises and bedsores because it includes psychological endangerment (threats to the victim) and financial exploitation. This statute is for protection against physicians, psychologists, and other health providers who may allow the patient to remain in harm's way and also includes legal representatives and accountants.
Arizona Revised Statute 46-455 This statue applies where the abuse is considered neglectful instead of a deliberate intent to harm and occurs most often when at-home caregivers do not give the proper care and tend to the needs of the elderly because they find it to be a nuisance.
All nursing homes and long-term care facilities that receive federal funds must comply with certain federal regulation and laws as well as individual state laws.
What Resources Are There for Elder Abuse?
The National Center on Elder Abuse at: www.preventelderabuse.org, U.S. Senate Committee on Aging, and National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform. [insert website for this]
What Should I do If I Think my Loved One Has Been Abused?
If you suspect that a loved one is suffering from Elder Abuse you should call Arizona Adult Protective Services at 877-SOS-ADULT. If the senior is living in a care facility, call 800-872-2879. The Arizona Elder Affairs Program 602-542-2124. Arizona also offers a free Senior Citizen's Protection Manual. For this call 866-352-8431. You should also consider contacting an attorney.