Unfortunately, elder abuse is incredibly common in the United States. The National Council on Aging indicates that as many as 10% of those over the age of 60 experienced some form of abuse in their lifetime. Here, we want to discuss some of the factors that have led to an increase in elder abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Factors Contributing to the Increase
The COVID-19 pandemic has struck the elderly particularly hard. The first major coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. was in a nursing home, and nursing home residents become seriously ill or die due to COVID-19 at much higher rates than the general population. Around the world, the health and well-being of younger people have taken presidents over the health of the elderly. Elder abuse was already vastly under-reported in the United States, and that was before the pandemic had started.
Some of the key factors that lead to an increase in elder abuse during these situations are:
- Job loss of a caretaker
- Caregiver burnout
- Overworked nursing homes
- Understaffed nursing homes
We have been told that we need to keep our distance from others around us, including family members and friends, when possible. While we know that this is to keep COVID-19 from spreading, this can also lead to incredible isolation. Unfortunately, the people that have become the most isolated are the elderly. Not only are they much less likely to have activities available to them during this pandemic, but they are also more likely to become seriously ill due to their age or pre-existing conditions.
This social isolation has two negative consequences. First, isolation is not good for anybody. There have been upticks in levels of depression amongst all age groups, particularly the elderly. Second, social isolation prevents family members and friends from being able to witness any signs or symptoms of abuse that may have occurred to an elderly person. If friends and family members are not aware that abuse is occurring, there is no way for them to prevent it or report it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a significant blow to the US economy. People of all age groups have been negatively affected as the unemployment rate has risen, evictions have spiked, and some people have become unable to afford nursing homes. Many older adults rely on not only government benefits and pensions but also their younger family members to provide for them. In many cases, the assistance provided by other family members has gone away due to economic hardships.
Discrimination Against the Elderly
Discrimination against the elderly is not new, but it has become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the younger population tends to “look out for themselves” instead of those who are most vulnerable in our society. Our elderly family members, whether they live inside of our homes or in an assisted living facility, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Determining When to Hire a Lawyer
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused, you need to consider calling law enforcement and state regulatory agencies as soon as possible. You may need to involve assistance from an attorney as well. Most family members do not have the resources available to properly investigate cases of elderly abuse in order to secure maximum compensation for their loved ones. However, a skilled elder abuse lawyer will be able to use the resources of their firm to investigate the case, work to determine liability, and help secure maximum compensation for their losses.