According to recent statistics, between one and two million citizens 65 years of age or older have been mistreated, exploited or injured by their caregiver. Even more disturbing, approximately 90 percent of perpetrators of elder abuse comes from family members, including spouses, partners, children and other relatives, and typically involves financial abuse.
While each state has its own protective service agency to help protect elderly, many cases still go undetected or treated, and this problem is growing in Louisiana specifically. If you or a family member is a victim of elderly abuse, contacting an experienced and qualified elder law attorney can be vital to you or your loved ones health.
Louisiana Audit Shows Elder Financial Exploitation
In late January 2019 Louisiana’s legislative auditor published a report showing that the state is ineffective at coordinating its work to combat and properly respond to financial abuse of the elderly. The report shows that six state agencies with oversight and investigative authority have received allegations of someone stealing or financially exploiting an elderly person.
The audit found that agencies including the attorney general’s office, health department, governor’s elderly affairs office, veteran’s affairs office, and the financial institutions office do not collaborate in an effective manner to help reduce elderly abuse in the state. The agencies lack of communication and collaboration mean that they do not share information on cases that could overlap programs.
Although the auditor’s office suggests better coordination and calls for lawmakers to consider enacting new laws to help prevent and identify financial abuse cases, the audit also recognizes the growing exploitation in Louisiana, and nationally.
Recognizing Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, the recent report from the state auditor’s office confirms that there is an alarming number of abuse and neglect cases regarding the elderly population in Louisiana. The state currently ranks second to last in the United States for quality of care in nursing homes, and as the number of qualified nurses and funding for care programs continue to shrink, we will likely see abuse numbers to rise.
However, vigilant and mindful friends and family can help protect those in need. One of the most important things we can do is look out for signs of abuse, both inside personal residences and professional facilities, but also in any change in spending habits among those closest to elder citizens.
In addition to physical abuse signs, including bruises, skin discoloration, bed sores, unsanitary clothing or living conditions, also watch out for any large money withdrawals or limited access to computers, cell phones, or other communication devices.
With the growing financial exploitation of elders in Louisiana, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney that knows how to handle elder abuse cases and ensure that the elderly’s rights and health are taken care of. Remember, it is a crime not to report elder abuse. If you suspect abuse or exploitation of an elder, contact an attorney today.