Older Americans are at greater risk of elder abuse due to COVID-19
The novel coronavirus has had a devastating affect on the United States and the world as a whole. Here in the U.S., more than 220,000 people have died from COVID-19, and nearly 8 million people have been diagnosed with the disease. In addition, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and the economy is in a free fall.
Our nation’s most vulnerable people face another risk during the pandemic: violence and abuse. Since shelter-in-place orders were issued by governors in March 2020, the rate of domestic violence has shot up. Experts also believe that the incidence of elder abuse has also increased dramatically due to the pandemic.
Elder abuse can take many forms, from physical, sexual or emotional abuse to financial exploitation. The isolation that many older Americans are experiencing in 2020 due to their high risk status may be allowing elder abuse to flourish.
Nursing homes and residential care facilities have the potential to be coronavirus hotspots — just as any facility where large numbers of people are housed together, like jails and college dormitories. Because the residents of these homes are considered high risk, most nursing homes went into lockdown early on in the pandemic, only allowing staff in or out of the building.
When family members are unable to visit their loved ones, it takes away their ability to check on them and ensure that they are being properly cared for by staff. A woman who visits her mother at her nursing home several times a week may now be limited to talking to her mom via the telephone or waving through a window. Without the ability to see her mother in person, the woman cannot check for signs of abuse and neglect, like unexplained bruises or bed sores.
The pandemic has also made older adults more dependent on caretakers, which can create a situation where elder abuse is more likely. For those individuals who are still in their own homes, threats of being placed in a nursing home (where they may contract COVID-19) can be used to manipulate and control them. In other situations, an older person may be abused by a family member or caretaker for an extended period of time without anyone knowing because they cannot physically see other people.
If you believe that your loved one is being abused, there are ways that you can help them. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for advice on how to protect them. You can also reach out to California’s Adult Protective Services Agency at 1-833-401-0832 to report suspected abuse.
Finally, if your loved one is being abused or neglected by a paid caretaker, or at a nursing home or residential care facility, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. A California elder abuse lawyer can help you through the process, including advising you on how to get your loved one to a safe place.
Our law firm is dedicated to helping victims of elder abuse, and raising awareness about the scope of the problem. At PLBSH, we know that elder abuse can devastate families. We are here for you. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California elder abuse lawyer, contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.