Resolving Common Forms of Elder Abuse and Neglect

Elder abuse can take many forms, explains elder abuse attorney Jeffrey Downey. Intentional acts of abuse or neglect can be legally actionable as elder abuse.  Most states, including Virginia, have definitions about what constitutes elder abuse.  In Virginia, abuse or neglect of an incapacitated adjust is a crime under Va. Code §18.2-369. (

Often the perpetrators of elder abuse are caregivers or people trusted by the elders. An elder abuse attorney can help you navigate the law and protect the rights of the individual elder.

Forms of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is considered a criminal offense, although some forms of elder abuse or neglect are rarely prosecuted as crimes.  Absent an intentional act of physical abuse, elder abuse is likely not going to be prosecuted as a crime, especially where there is a question about whether the adverse outcome was due to the patient’s underlying medical condition

When a demented person or an elder is isolated, they can become lonely hence, the desire for attachment, meaning they’ll likely cling to anyone who shows interest, even if it’s an abusive caregivers. Cases of elder abuse are many, but they’re often unreported. A past study by the National Center on Elder Abuse indicates that the following forms of elder abuse are common:

  1. Physical Abuse

Caregivers are tasked with providing tender loving care to their clients, particularly elders, but they sometimes use unnecessary force causing physical, mental, and emotional anguish to senior citizen under their care. If you detect signs of elder abuse, you should seek legal help.

  1. Sexual Abuse

Any form of non-consensual sex with a senior citizen is considered elder abuse and the perpetrator should be prosecuted.  But often facilities fail to preserve evidence or fail to send the patient to the hospital for sexual abuse testing and labs.

  1. Emotional Abuse

Nurses and aides are supposed to be kind and patient with their residents.  But sometimes staff resort to yelling at or trying to intimidate their patients, especially where they have no advocates or family.  Such conduct needs to be reported to the facility and the appropriate licensing agency.

  1. Financial and/or Material Exploitation

Financial or material exploitation occurs when a caregiver manipulates or forces a senior citizen to transfer property ownership and cash to the caregiver without an express authority, or under duress. A transaction is regarded null and void if a senior citizen signs a deed under duress, or transfers money to a caregiver unwillingly.

  1. Abandonment

Abandonment is also called desertion, occurs when a primary caregiver fails to provide the expected standard of care, either in part or totally, or denies the patient ongoing care.

  1. Self-Neglect

Self-neglect occurs when an elder is put in a position that can risk their health, safety or cause harm. Caregivers should ensure that their clients are free from harms –way as long as they’re under their watch. The law actually states that patient should leave a caregiving facility without injuries, and if they came with injuries, the facility should address the injuries appropriately.

An elder abuse attorney can evaluate your situation and advice you on how your loved one can be compensated for elder abuse.

  1. Adverse outcomes – pressure wounds, falls,  unexplained bruising.

Adverse outcomes, like unexplained bruises or fractures can be a sign of abuse or neglect.  Pressure wounds or decubitus ulcers can also be a sign of neglect, especially where they develop in a long term care facility.  For more information on pressure wounds, review this article.    (

A Call to Action

 “When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.” -Angela Merkel

If you have a question about whether a loved one was abused or neglected, call the elder abuse attorney Jeffrey Downey for a free, confidential consultation.  And remember, there are time limits involved in bringing any elder abuse claim, so don’t delay

No attorney’s fees are charged unless there is a settlement or recovery, so call now.

Jeff Downey, Representing clients in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC

The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey, PC

8270 Greensboro Drive, Suite 810

McLean, VA  22102

Phone: 703-564-7318 or 703-564-7357