Alzheimer’s abuse cases are believed to occur in high rates because patients are often unable to communicate their experiences of elder mistreatment or abuse. As a result, many Alzheimer’s abuse cases go unnoticed or unreported. It is important for family members to visit a loved one if he or she is living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. By regularly visiting with elderly loved ones, the family is able to monitor any changes in mood, behavior, appearance, or health that may indicate Alzheimer’s abuse or neglect.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common form of dementia that occurs in elderly patients over the age of 65. This disease inhibits the patient’s cognitive abilities, which may cause problems with communication, daily activities, or maintaining meaningful relationships. Many Alzheimer’s patients feel troubled and confused by their inability to retain memories. If Alzheimer’s is left untreated, it can lead to severe depression, anxiety, aggression, wandering, or death.
Aggressors Targeting Alzheimer’s Patients
Elder patients’ caregivers are supposed to help and heal, never to harm. However, some unscrupulous caregivers may result to elder abuse or elder negligence during their work. Alzheimer’s disease patients are frequently a target of elder abuse aggressors due to their inability to communicate and memory loss problems. Many elder patients suffering from Alzheimer’s abuse may not remember the elder abuse every happening, or they may only remember certain feelings associated with the abuse. Without being able to communicate that there is a problem, the elder patient experiencing Alzheimer’s abuse is unlikely to receive help. Find more about alzheimer’s abuse risks.
Signs of Alzheimer’s Abuse
Signs that an elderly patient may be experiencing Alzheimer’s abuse involve:
- New bruises, cuts, scrapes, burns, or other physical injuries
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Significantly reduced ability to communicate
- Rapidly developing health problems, that the patient did not previously have
- Mood swings
- Changes in behavior
- Aggression, or easily agitated
- Suddenly rapid development of the Alzheimer’s disease itself
- Antisocial behavior
- Unexplained financial problems
Financial Alzheimer’s Abuse
In recent years, financial Alzheimer’s abuse has become more predominant. People working within nursing home facilities experience stress due to the nature of their jobs and the relatively low pay rate they may be receiving. As a result, nursing home staff members may attempt to steal money or items of high value from an Alzheimer’s patient. Alzheimer’s patients are easy targets for elder financial abuse because they may not recall how much money they had to begin with.
Alzheimer’s Abuse Study
In 2011, the Alzheimer’s Society published a study about financial Alzheimer’s abuse. It was titled Short Changed: Protecting People with Dementia from Financial Abuse. This study discovered that family members are frequently the perpetrators of financial Alzheimer’s abuse. Family members are more likely to engage in financial Alzheimer’s abuse because they have direct access to bank accounts and other personal, valuable assets of the elder patient. According to the Alzheimer’s Society study, numerous family members who have been accused of financial Alzheimer’s abuse have claimed that they were merely “taking their inheritance a bit early.”
Within the study, the Alzheimer’s Society discovered that roughly 15% of Alzehimer’s or dementia patients were reported to have been a victim of financial abuse. Another 62% of elder caregivers reported that the Alzheimer’s patient had been approached by cold-calling or door-to-door salespeople. Finally, 70% of Alzheimer’s or dementia patients were reported by caregivers to have become a clear and routine target by telephone salespersons.
Signs of Financial Alzheimer’s Abuse
Behavior indicative of financial Alzheimer’s abuse may include:
- Forcing the elderly patient to give or lend money
- Withholding the elderly patient’s own financial, monetary, or valuable assets, resulting in lack of adequate medical care and trouble paying bills
- Using an elderly patient’s credit card, debit card, or other financial account with permission
- Charging excessive amounts for the nursing home services that the Alzheimer’s patient needs
- Abusing the Power of Attorney
- Alzheimer’s Care Facility Abuse
Fulmer, T., G. Paveza, and C. Vandeweerd. “Abuse and neglect in older adults with Alzheimer.” PubMed Central. 2006. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16492453>.
Southern, Alice. “Mistreatment and abuse of people with dementia.” Alzheimer’s Society. London: 2013. <http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=422>.