Georgia battles the abuse of elderly people in the community

The ill-treatment of the elderly population is a hidden epidemic that often occurs behind closed doors and out of the safety of the public eye. Each year on June 15th, Georgia observes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It is an initiative to educate the community on the existence of elder abuse and actions people can take if they suspect an older person is suffering injuries or abuse that can occur at home and in nursing home facilities.

New state bill

With numerous elderly people being subjected to poor treatment every year, lawmakers found it necessary to evaluate and restore the rights of the elderly. According to the Georgia Department of Human Services, House Bill 78 passed into law earlier this year. The legislation provides more accurate definitions of abuse, expands the list of people who are mandated to report mistreatment or suspected abuse and increases the protections of the elderly and other disabled adults.

Forms of abuse and exploitation

Abuse of the elderly takes many forms, and it is not uncommon to see an elderly person mistreated in not only one way, but in multiple forms. Types of abuse include:

  • Physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Verbal, mental and emotional abuse.
  • Financial exploitation.
  • Neglect and self-neglect.

Many victims are people that are frail, disabled, ill or incapacitated at some level, requiring assistance from others to meet their basic needs of daily living. Often abuse is perpetrated by a victim's family members, such as their children who are caring for them, siblings, or other relatives. It can also occur at the hands of caregivers at nursing home facilities or in any arrangement where the elderly person is being cared for by another trusted individual.

Georgia care facility investigated

In a press release by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in July of this year, the bureau described the issuance of arrest warrants for 21 current and past employees of an Alzheimer's care facility for allegedly neglecting and abusing patients living there. Over 70 charges related to abuse, cruelty to persons over 65 years of age, neglect, financial exploitation and failure to report, have been indicated. The employees are accused of striking patients, throwing water on them, restraining them with bed sheets, and subjecting patients to inhumane living conditions.

According to Athens Banner-Herald news, reported complaints of elder abuse rose 65 percent between 2008 and 2012, in addition, it is estimated that most of the neglect, abuse and exploitation that occurs goes unreported.

If an elderly person has suffered personal injuries or financial loss as a result of being abused or exploited, consult with an attorney that understands the laws protecting elderly individuals. An experienced attorney can assist in obtaining any compensation due to the victim and their family.