Elder Abuse


PHOENIX Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse in Arizona: An Overview and Call for Justice

Elder abuse, a growing issue in Arizona, is a term that encompasses a variety of harmful actions toward senior citizens. It includes physical, mental, psychological, emotional, and financial abuse, as well as sexual abuse. Elder abuse can happen anywhere, whether in the home of a trusted family member, caregiver, or in a nursing home or long-term care facility. In Arizona, the unfortunate reality is that those who are often entrusted with the care of our elderly loved ones are the ones who inflict this abuse​​​​.

A key factor contributing to the growing problem of elder abuse in Arizona is the silence that surrounds it. The abuse often remains undetected and unreported, which allows it to persist and escalate. It's thus crucial to break this silence and raise awareness about the issue. Only through education can we begin to combat elder abuse effectively​​.

The state of Arizona has established elder abuse laws to protect its senior citizens from such abuse. These laws cover a broad range of abuse types, including neglect and abandonment, and apply to both home and institutional settings. Elder abuse, under these laws, is classified as a felony, emphasizing the gravity of the crime​​.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse refers to any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. This includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Often, the perpetrators of such abuse are those entrusted with the care and safety of the elderly, such as family members, friends, or caregivers in residential settings.

A particularly insidious form of elder abuse is financial exploitation, which includes unauthorized use of an elderly person's funds or property, fraud, or coercion to surrender finances or property.

The Scope of the Problem in Arizona

Elder abuse in Arizona is a grave issue. The state's population of adults aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double between 2010 and 2050, increasing their vulnerability to potential abuse. Moreover, Arizona's unique social and geographical factors—such as high retirement rates and isolated rural communities—may exacerbate the risks and challenges associated with elder abuse.

Despite the existence of mandatory reporting laws in Arizona, underreporting is a significant problem. Many victims suffer in silence due to fear, shame, or confusion about their circumstances. This not only compounds the emotional and physical toll on victims but also allows offenders to evade accountability.

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When Does Elder Abuse Become a Lawsuit?

In Arizona, elder abuse can give rise to a lawsuit when there is clear evidence of harm or negligence. To establish a potential lawsuit, the victim, or their representative, must demonstrate the following:

  • The existence of a duty of care from the alleged perpetrator towards the elderly person.
  • A breach of that duty by the alleged perpetrator.
  • Harm or damage to the elderly person as a result of that breach.
  • A causal relationship between the breach and the harm suffered.

This may include physical injuries, emotional distress, financial loss, or a diminished quality of life.

Steps to Take if You or A Loved One Have Been a Victim of Elder Abuse

If you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, it's crucial to take immediate steps to ensure safety and seek justice:

  • Report the abuse. Contact the Arizona Department of Economic Security's Division of Aging and Adult Services or your local law enforcement agency.
  • Document the evidence. Keep a record of all incidents, including dates, times, locations, and any relevant details. This could also include photographs of injuries or records of financial transactions.
  • Consult with a healthcare provider. If physical abuse is suspected, seek immediate medical attention. A healthcare provider can document injuries and provide necessary treatment.
  • Speak with a lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Seeking Help: The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney

Elder abuse cases can be complex and emotionally charged. As a professional personal injury attorney, our role is to help you navigate this difficult journey. We can assist in gathering evidence, identifying potential defendants, and holding them accountable.

In addition, we can help explore possible compensation for physical injuries, emotional distress, medical expenses, and other losses resulting from the abuse. Our priority is to ensure your rights are protected, and justice is served.

When considering filing an elder abuse case, one must also take into account the relevant statute of limitations. Under Arizona law, a claim for abuse or neglect must be filed within two years from the date of injury or the discovery of the cause of action​​.

It's worth noting that a professional personal injury attorney can be a critical ally in elder abuse cases. They can provide legal counsel, help navigate the complexities of the law, and advocate for the rights and welfare of the victim. While the process may seem overwhelming, remember that taking action is a crucial step towards ending elder abuse and achieving justice.

This article is only a starting point. If you suspect elder abuse, don't hesitate to seek help. It's our collective responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens and ensure they live their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve.