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The most prevalent form of medical abuse of an elder is neglect.  A caregiver might fail to provide basic personal hygiene or clothing for a senior.  They may also not provide a health care plan or any sort of safety precautions.  Often, the family or caregiver blames the elder for not being able to perform basic processes.  Even if the elder is financially capable of affording medical care, sometimes they do not receive the proper coverage.  They also may not have been provided certain support products such as walkers, wheelchairs, dentures, or hearing aids.

Some abuse is unintentional, such as not wanting to roll an elder over in bed while they are sleeping so they won't be woken.  However, the elderly can develop painful bed sores.  While the caregiver might think they're being mindful of the elder's privacy and sleep, they may be unintentionally subjecting them to physical injury. 

Although there is never justification for abuse, the most common excuse is a primary caregiver's desire to spend minimally on the care of a senior so they will be given a larger inheritance upon the elderly person's death.  Often times, this medical care is expensive, and a caregiver may not be willing to make the monetary sacrifices.  But, if lack of funds is the problem, there are many charities and government agencies that can help with elder care in cases of hardship.  Whatever the circumstances may be, elder abuse is completely unacceptable and illegal.  

In addition, it may surprise you to know that most physical elder abuse occurs in the family home and not in a center for dependent care.  Often times, the victims of physical abuse and medical neglect are afraid to come out and report their problems because of the fear of being abused even more and having further care taken away from them.  

If you notice physical injuries or malnourishment in an elder you know, contact Adult Protective Services. Look out for changes like sudden, unexplainable injuries and rapid weight loss, as well as scars, cuts, and bruises. Keep in mind there are different Adult Protective Services in different states and counties, so make sure to research the proper agency in your area. 
You may also want to speak to an attorney.

If you yourself are unable to provide sufficient assistance to an elderly person under your care, hire an aide to help when you are too busy.  You should also consider a nursing home, so you don't have to worry about the well-being of your dependent.  Nursing homes are a great alternative because they provide 24/7 care for elders.  Elders are frailer, so they need the additional support.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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