Elder abuse is an unfortunate reality for many seniors. While abuse can range from minor to severe, the elderly oftentimes experience neglect or abuse that impacts their lives. Elder abuse can be very difficult to determine for several reasons. Consider that many seniors are embarrassed or afraid to speak up about abuse. Oftentimes, it can also be difficult to determine if an injury is a result of abuse or if it was an accident.
These issues in determining abuse have led scientists at the University of Southern California to develop a method to better detect abuse in elder patients. Dr. Laura Mosqueda led the study, and did so because of the difficulties in determining elder abuse. She said, “Because older adults are more vulnerable to injuries like fractures and bruising, it is often difficult to distinguish if an injury is due to an accident or abuse”. Dr. Mosequeda also works as a professor at USC. You can learn more about this study and its findings here.
The Elder Abuse Study
Dr. Laura Mosequeda led a study to help determine elder abuse. She used interviews with elder abuse experts that included physicians, detectives, prosecutors, and focus groups of emergency and primary care physicians.
This method that has recently been developed in February, 2019 includes a questionnaire that makes it easier for doctors and nurses to recognize the difference between abuse and accident when they notice injuries on older patients. The questionnaire includes diagrams and is intended to make it easier for healthcare professionals to detect abuse. The intention is to have doctors and caregivers use this questionnaire to help determine if abuse is taking place.
These experts in the study have acknowledged that there is a need for more information on geriatric injuries and better investigations into elder abuse and neglect. Experts have recognized the need for more documentation on patient history, patient’s physical appearance before treatment begins, head-to-toe evaluation, minor injuries, and evidence that may disprove abuse or neglect. If there is abuse or neglect, clinicians will be able to better detect and report the abuse with more comprehensive documentation.
Testing the Results
The researchers who conducted the study and came up with this new method of detecting abuse are now planning to seek funding to test the Geriatric Injury Documentation Tool in medical facilities.
Though research and awareness for elder abuse and neglect is emerging, there is still a need to continue to be aware of signs of abuse as friends and family members of elders in facilities. Abuse and neglect does occur, and if you suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect in an elder care facility, contact our office to speak with someone who can help you. We are happy to answer your questions and provide the resources that your family needs at this time.