The recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected approximately 4,500,000 people worldwide. Unfortunately, the virus has disproportionally affected older adults and elderly, mainly due to pre-existing age-related health conditions.
As such, stricter regulations and precautions were put in place for elderly people to protect them from the virus. Nursing homes and retirement communities were placed on lockdown, completely isolating their patients from the outside world.
Sadly, the safety measures meant to protect the elderly have placed them at an increased risk for elder abuse and elder abuse cases are increasing nationwide due to the coronavirus.
Why Are Elder Abuse Cases Increasing Because of Coronavirus?
There are several reasons why instances of elder abuse have risen since the pandemic began. Some reasons include:
- Dependency of the elderly on others – Many elderly people are dependent on others to meet their basic needs such as personal hygiene and cooking. With social distancing, the elderly may become more isolated and more dependent on others for their care which increases their risk for abuse.
- Becoming dependent on the elderly victim – If the coronavirus has led to unemployment for an adult individual who lives with an elderly person, and that person becomes dependent on the elderly person, an increased risk of abuse follows.
- Mental health problems of caregivers – Forced quarantine comes with reduced social contacts, less time outdoors, increased stress, and increased depression. Caregivers who are have mental health issues related to the lockdown are more likely to abuse their elderly patient.
Overall, instances of elder abuse are more common when both the perpetrator and the elderly person do not have access to social services. The lockdown has led to an increased demand for these services which, unfortunately, in many instances cannot be provided because of a lack of funding.
Awareness of Elder Abuse Should Be Raised During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Only about one in 24 elder abuse cases are reported.
Sadly, because the elderly are socially isolated from their friends and family because of the corona virus, they are less likely to report abuse, especially if they are isolated alone with their abuser. Elder abuse also goes unreported because most people are unaware about services that are available to the elderly victim.
The community must check in on its elderly to check for signs of abuse, especially those who may be particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the coronavirus.
Additionally, awareness about elder abuse must be raised. Friends and family members of an elderly person must learn how to address the issue with the older adults in their lives. If signs of abuse are identified, they should be reported immediately to obtain help and assistance.
Elderly people who have suffered elder abuse due to the circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic have legal rights to recovery under the law, and are seeking representation for the harm and abuse they suffered. If you or a loved one have questions about your rights and legal options, be sure to reach out to an experienced elder abuse attorney right away.