Two 19-year-old Minnesota women, Brianna Marie Broitzman and Ashton Michelle Larson, were brought into court today to face charges of assault and other counts alleging they abused 15 nursing home residents. Prosecutors claim that over several months in early 2008 they physically, emotionally and sexually abused 15 residents who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, dementia or both.
Although the AP did not report on what might have motivated Broitzman and Larson, the economic downturn is only exacerbating the problem of elder abuse. The sad and frightening reality is that, as more individuals and families feel the effects of the recession, it could be the country's elder population that suffers serious consequences if families shift their time, finances, and attention to other pressing challenges such as increased mortgage payments, foreclosures, and joblessness.
In light of the rising concerns regarding elder abuse, it is important that the public be aware of the different types of elder abuse out there, as well as their warning signs. Here is a short list, along with some of the warning signs:
1) Physical or mental abuse - recurring or unexplained injuries; poorly treated injuries; poor hygiene for the patient or in the surroundings; malnutrition; depression, withdrawal, or a sudden fear of caregivers; a caregiver restricts access to, or isolates, the patient
2) Financial abuse or exploitation - a sudden lack of knowledge about financial matters; a refusal to make decisions on finances; unusual banking activity
3) Neglect or abandonment (and self-neglect) - unpaid regular bills (e.g. rent, utilities. etc.); weight loss; poor hygienic conditions; unmet medical needs (e.g. medications, equipment, etc.)
Anyone with an elder family member who notices some of the above signs should carefully supervise the situation and/or contact local authorities to alert them. The links below provide helpful information on the subject, including more signs of elder abuse.