Vulnerable adults are people older than eighteen years of age who need a caregiver, and who are unable to protect themselves or look after themselves. Vulnerable adults include elderly people in nursing homes, people who are sick or frail, people with memory problems, or people who have difficulty communicating with others. Individuals with physical or mental disabilities are also classified as vulnerable adults. Unfortunately, because these individuals need care and are unable to look after themselves, they are at greater risk of abuse. Read on for more information regarding vulnerable adults and how we can protect them.
Why Are Vulnerable Adults Targets for Abuse?
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why vulnerable adults are the victims of abuse. Violence toward vulnerable adults can be a single outburst, or it can be a premeditated attack. Sometimes vulnerable adults are targeted for abuse because caregivers are frustrated at the adult’s inability to communicate or inability to act “normal.” Lack of knowledge or training by health professionals working in nursing homes, hospitals or residential homes can result in violence, as professionals are not taught how to appropriately deal with this frustration.
While poor management and inadequate training can result in abuse toward vulnerable adults, sometimes violence can result simply because caregivers have a violent history. Caregivers are not always health professionals, and therefore training in how to appropriately help vulnerable adults is not required.
What Are the Signs of Abuse Toward a Vulnerable Adult?
Some vulnerable adults, especially elderly individuals, may be reluctant to speak out about the abuse they are suffering from. They might excuse their bruises as being “nothing.” Having injuries and not fully explaining where they came from can be a sign of abuse. Unexplained physical symptoms, such as bruising or scarring, can be explained by abuse. The appearance of the vulnerable adult might also change: they might look dirtier or thinner than before due to improper care or neglect.
Also keep an eye out for behavioral changes. A vulnerable adult who is suffering from abuse or violence might become withdrawn, quiet or depressed. However, behavioral changes on the other end of the spectrum are also possible; a vulnerable adult might become inexplicably angry or aggressive. Not wanting to be alone with certain individuals is also a red flag.
How Do We Protect Vulnerable Adults?
There are several ways to protect vulnerable adults. The most effective way to help and protect vulnerable adults is never to ignore signs of abuse and never to shrug them off as nothing. If you are suspicious, ask questions. It’s best to speak with the vulnerable adult in private. If your suspicions of abuse are confirmed, you can either call a General Practitioner or you can speak with a social worker. Depending on the nature of the abuse, you might even want to get the police involved, as abuse toward a vulnerable adult can be a crime. Additionally, help lines and help from Adult Protective Services are available specifically for these instances.
Vulnerable adults are most at risk for abuse and violence, and because of this they need to be protected. If you suspect that a vulnerable adult you know has been abused or neglected in some way, speak with them and figure out how you can help them. Don’t ignore the situation, but speak out so something can be done to protect them.
If you have evidence that a loved one is being abused, report it to the police immediately, and seek legal counsel to represent the case. Hughes & Coleman, Injury Lawyers are nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys located in Kentucky. For more information about nursing home abuse and neglect, visit the website at www.NursingHomeNeglectLawyers.com.