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Can you spot elder abuse? The ER may not, according to new study.

It is estimated that as much as 10 percent of the elder population experiences abuse in some form. The horrifying consequences of elder abuse can lead to significant injuries. Several state and federal laws have been enacted to help curb elder abuse. Unfortunately, the problem remains widespread. 

According to a recent study, published in the Journal for the American Geriatrics Society, less that .02 percent of emergency room visits by elderly Americans results in a diagnosis of elder abuse. The authors of the study note that this reveals a national failure by emergency departments to diagnose and intervene against elder abuse.

Other relevant information from the study includes:

  • Women are more likely to receive a diagnosis of elder abuse than men (74 percent)
  • Neglect and physical abuse are the most common diagnosis
  • Lower-income elderly were more likely to receive a diagnosis (37 percent with annual income less than $39,000)

Warning signs of elder abuse

Generally, family members and loved ones are in the best position to prevent elder abuse. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing elder abuse, trust your instincts. Speak to staff. Stop by without notice to check up on your loved ones. In addition, look for:

  • Frequent bruises and broken bones that are repeatedly attributed to falls
  • A disheveled appearance, including unwashed clothes, soiled undergarments and unclean/unwashed hair
  • A withdrawn or apathetic mood, particularly if it is a recent change or seems more pronounced than usual
  • An unwillingness for a caregiver to let you be alone with your loved one or even see them

If you see any of these signs, it is important you seek immediate help. If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, you can call 911. You can also contact the New York Adult Protective Services. If abuse has occurred, there are legal remedies available to help your loved one with medical expenses, pain and suffering and other costs as well.

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