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Scandal: Seniors Suffering in Silence

Each Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm appreciates the often-incredible stories of mistreatment faced by seniors each and every day. Yet, there are always some stories of mistreatment that shock the conscience. For example, a recent Arizona Daily Sun story recounted an unbelievably tragic tale of elder abuse perpetrated by against a man by his own son.

According to the story, in 2009 police arrested a man on charges of endangerment and aggravated assault. The man was allegedly driving down an interstate with his elderly father in the car. It was only 39 degrees outside at the time. Essentially, in the middle of nowhere, the man pulled the car over. He took his 92-year old father out of the car, left him laying on the side of the road, and drove off. The elderly man could not walk without his walker, and the son kept the walker in the car. When arrested the son admitted that he was trying to kill his father.

Chicago elder abuse lawyers know that abuse perpetrated by relatives is quite common. The article shares another story where a 91-year old nearly blind woman had $52,000 stolen by her own son. The son bought a motorcycle and was planning to change his name and move to another state. Fortunately, sheriff’s deputies arrested that man before he could fulfill his plan.

It is unknown how many other criminals get away with this sort of abuse without punishment.

Elder Abuse Mostly Unreported
Authorities across the country, including in our area, agree that the vast majority of elder abuse is never reported. There many reasons for the underreporting, not least of which are seniors who don’t understand their rights or are ashamed of their situation.

Even then, when abuse is reported it is often difficult to prove. The criminal justice system, understandably, places high burdens on prosecutors to prove cases beyond of reasonable doubt. Obtaining actual evidence sufficient to meet that burden in a court of law is not easy. Part of the problem is the limited resources of those tasked will fully investigating allegations of abuse. Without proper resources the investigations cannot occur in a timely or sufficient manner, meaning legal cases cannot be put together.

Advocates explain that senior vulnerabilities are both the reason they are targeted as well as a reason the abuse is often never reported. For example, the story shares information on a senior with dementia who was moved into a small trailer by his family–his grandchildren. The grandchildren then re-mortgaged his home three times. The children spent the money. A legal advocate sought to prosecute the grandchildren in court (they were legal guardians), but in the end all of the money was spent and the man did not recover anything.

Even in cases where a senior has their full mental capacities, they may be reluctant to turn in their relative, because they have not have anyone else to support them. Many seniors have few close friends and a single relative may be their only link to others. Alleging abuse or mistreatment by the relative is unlikely to happen.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Illinois Elder Abuse on the Rise in Some Regions

U.S. Senators Introduce Elder Abuse Prevention Act