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The Difference Between Elder Neglect and Elder Abuse

The National Council of Aging reports that almost 5 million cases of elder abuse are documented each year, and, unfortunately, many more cases remain undocumented. Elder abuse and neglect are grave issues affecting millions of families in the U.S. Understanding the difference between the two can help individuals more easily identify this issue and confidently report it.

Elder Abuse Vs. Elder Neglect

A man in the hallway of a retirement home

Abuse and negligence are both recognized as forms of mistreatment but have slightly contrasting definitions. Elder abuse is characterized as intentional physical, emotional, or sexual harm imposed on an older adult. Financial exploitation is another form of elder abuse that involves the misuse of a vulnerable adult’s finances and assets by another for personal gain.

On the other hand, elder neglect refers to the failure of a caregiver to provide basic care. Residents in assisted living facilities are often found as victims of nursing home negligence when their basic needs are not met. While both elder abuse and neglect can be intentional, elder neglect can also be accidental or unintentional.

Examples of elder neglect include:

  • Absence of necessities like food and water
  • Untreated or worsening medical conditions
  • Inadequate living facilities
  • Failing to aid in hazardous activities like changing or bathing

Indications of Elder Abuse

An elderly person’s loved ones may not quickly pick up on signs of elder abuse because of the older person’s frailty or mental state. Caregivers may also excuse concerning situations and brush them off as minor issues.

Look for the following signs if there is suspicion of elder abuse or neglect.

  • Physical Abuse: Signs of bruising, scarring, or restraint marks on wrists
  • Sexual Abuse: Torn, stained, or fragmented clothing
  • Emotional Abuse: Hostile, intimidating caregiver behavior, or symptoms of dementia in the elder person such as issues speaking
  • Elder Neglect: Unnecessary weight loss, dehydration, bedsores, or desertion of the elderly person

Reporting Elder Abuse or Neglect

Discussing a suspected case of elder abuse or neglect with anyone can be a sensitive and uncomfortable conversation. The New York State Department of Health guarantees elder people the right to a comfortable living environment, respect, and quality care free of discrimination. If you are concerned for the well-being of a loved one, do not hesitate to report the case of abuse or neglect to New York’s Office of Adult Protective Services.

Get Compassionate Representation From Leav & Steinberg

When these rights are violated, you are entitled to seeking legal counsel on behalf of the victim. The main goal of the attorneys at Leav & Steinberg LLP provide honest services and achieve successful results for survivors of nursing home negligence and elder abuse. Contact us today at 212-766-5222 to request your free consultation with an attorney.