Arizona is known for its growing retirement population. Nearly 17 percent of Arizonans are 65 or older, making it one of the top 10 states for elderly populations, and well above the national average of 15 percent.
Like any state with a large elderly population, elder abuse and neglect continues to be a growing problem. In 2015 alone, authorities handled nearly 14,000 cases of elder abuse, a 19 percent jump over the year before.
Arizona lawmakers have taken steps to protect its older citizens by passing the Adult Protective Services Act (APSA), which strengthened both civil and criminal penalties against people who victimize the state’s most vulnerable residents. This victimization can take the form of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
The statute also expanded the definition of vulnerable beyond the elderly. The APSA defines vulnerable as any “individual who is 18 years or older who is unable to protect him/herself from abuse, neglect or exploitation by others because of a physical or mental impairment.”
If you have a loved one who you think might be suffering from abuse, an Arizona personal injury lawyer can help.
How to Recognize Abuse
Arizona law defines abuse as any:
- Intentional infliction of physical harm.
- Injury caused by negligent acts of omission.
- Unreasonable confinement.
- Sexual abuse or sexual assault.
Signs to look for that might suggest someone you love is being abused can include:
- Unexplained physical injuries, such as bruises, sores, cuts, and/or abrasions – especially if they are in unexpected locations.
- Physical injuries in different stages of the healing process.
- Bruising or other markings reflect the shape of the objects used to inflict the injuries, e.g., electrical cord or belt buckles, etc.
- Bilateral bruising on upper arms from shaking.
- Fractures in different stages of healing.
- Cigar and cigarette burns.
- Rope or similar burns on arms/wrists, legs/ankles that might suggest improper restraints.
- Unexplained drowsiness or confusion due to overuse of medications.
Identifying a Case of Neglect
Neglect is defined as a pattern of conduct without the person’s informed consent resulting in deprivation of food, water, medicine, medical services, shelter, and cooling, heating or other services necessary to maintain minimum physical or mental health. Symptoms include:
- Bedsores (pressure sores).
- Unkempt, dirty, body odor, feces on body.
- Clothing is insufficient or inappropriate for the weather.
- Fleas & lice on individual.
- Malnourished & dehydrated.
- Little or no food available.
- Soiled or urine soaked bedding.
The most frequent type of abuse that authorities encounter is financial exploitation, signs of which can include:
- Implausible explanation about what they are doing with their money.
- Concerned or confused about “missing” funds in their accounts.
- Neglected or receiving insufficient care given their financial status.
- Isolated from others, even family members.
- Unable to remember financial transactions or signing paperwork.
If you have a loved one in a care facility and you’re concerned they may be a victim of some type of abuse or neglect, get in touch with a Phoenix personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible by calling Burg Simpson Arizona at 602-777-7000 or filling out our Free Case Evaluation Form now.