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Elder Abuse: Involuntary Seclusion, Abandonment and Neglect

Unfortunately, abandonment and neglect of elders happens all too often, including nursing home neglect.  Involuntary seclusion is another type of elder abuse that can be particularly damaging and difficult to spot, and which can often be coupled with financial exploitation.

What is abandonment?

Abandonment is precisely what it sounds like: leaving a senior who is unable to care for him or herself in some way alone, usually in a public location.

What are the signs of abandonment?

As with other types of abuse, the Oregon Department of Human Services has created a list of warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of abandonment.  Those signs include:

  • The desertion of the person at a shopping center or other public location; and
  • A person’s own report of being abandoned.

What is neglect?

Psychology Today defines elder neglect as “when a caregiver does not provide for an elder’s safety, or for his or her physical and/or psychological needs.”  This can include failing to provide medication or necessary therapy, failing to provide for hygienic needs, forcing an elder to live in unclean conditions, and leaving elders alone for long periods of time.  Psychology Today also reports that, according to Nursing Magazine, about one half of elder abuse cases involve neglect.

What are the signs of neglect?

The Oregon Department of Human Serviceslist of warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of neglect include:

  • The person being cared for is not given the opportunity to speak for themselves without the presence of the caregiver;
  • The caregiver has an attitude of indifference or anger toward the person they are caring for;
  • Family members of the caregiver blame the person being cared for (frequently related to incontinence);
  • The caregiver exhibits aggressive behavior, including threats, insults or harassment toward the person being cared for;
  • The caregiver has problems with drugs or alcohol;
  • The caregiver exhibits inappropriate displays of affection towards the person being cared for;
  • The caregiver isolates family members from the person being cared for;
  • The caregiver is unwilling to work with other care providers on a care plan for the person being cared for;
  • Dirt, fecal/urine smell or other health and safety hazards exist in the elder’s living environment;
  • The elder has been left in an unsafe or isolated place;
  • Rashes, sores or lice appear on the elder;
  • The elder experiences malnourishment or dehydration and/or sudden weight loss; or
  • An untreated medical condition appears.

What is involuntary seclusion and what are the signs?

The Oregon Department of Human Services defines involuntary seclusion as “confinement, restriction, or isolation of an adult for the convenience of a caregiver or to discipline the adult.”  The warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of involuntary seclusion include:

  • An elder’s report of not being allowed to see or talk with people he or she reasonably would see or talk to;
  • The elder being kept away from where others can go;
  • The elder not being allowed to use the telephone; and
  • The elder not being allowed to receive or send mail.

If you believe an elderly loved one is suffering or has suffered from any type of abuse, contact an Oregon-licensed elder abuse attorney.  If you believe a crime has been committed you should also call the police, and if there is a medical emergency you should dial 9-1-1.

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Man Killed in Portland Area Motorcycle Accident Involving an SUV

Oregon Motorcycle Accident News station KOIN reports that a man has been killed in a motorcycle accident near Portland.  Three vehicles were involved:  a motorcycle, an SUV, and a pickup truck.  The motorcyclist was killed.  The SUV rolled multiple times, injuring the driver.  The driver of the pickup truck was not injured.  The accident occurred on Interstate 5, just north of the Oregon-Washington border on April 7, 2014.  At the time of the report, authorities had not formed an opinion as to how the accident occurred.  It was the second reported motorcycle accident in the area that day, as a Beaverton, Ore. man was killed when he was struck by an SUV on Cedar Hills Blvd.

Motorcycle Accident Frequency

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while fatalities involving cars and light trucks reached an all time low in 2008, motorcyclist deaths reached an all time high that year.  Motorcycle accidents more than doubled between 1999 and 2008.  A CDC study shows that between 2001 and 2008, more than 34,000 motorcyclists were killed in accidents and approximately 1,222,000 people were injured severely enough that they were treated in an emergency department for non-fatal accidents.

That study shows that people between the ages of 20 and 24 had the highest death rate, followed by those aged 25-29.  The increase is not just in fatal accidents.  Between 2001 and 2008, non fatal injuries increased from 120,000 to 175,000 per year.  Over half of the non-fatal injuries involved the motorcyclist’s leg/foot (30%) or head/neck (30%).

The Costs of Motorcycle Accidents

The CDC estimates that motorcycle related crashes cost $12 billion per year.  Additionally, a different CDC report claims that “Economic costs saved in states with universal helmet laws were, on average, nearly four times greater per registered motorcycle than in states without such a law.”

How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle

Some motorcycle accidents are the cyclist’s fault, some are the fault of other drivers, and some are just unavoidable.  Whoever is to blame, the results of such an accident can change your life forever and can be coupled with a huge expense.  If you or your family member is involved in a motorcycle accident you should contact an Oregon licensed personal injury or wrongful death attorney.  But there are some things a motorcyclist can do to try to prevent an accident from happening.  The CDC makes the following recommendations for those who ride:

  • Always wear a DOT-approved helmet;
  • Never ride your motorcycle after drinking. Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi;
  • Don’t let friends ride impaired. Take their keys away;
  • Wear protective clothing that provides some level of injury protection. Upper body clothing should also include bright colors or reflective materials, so that other motorists can more easily see you;
  • Avoid tailgating; and
  • Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when traveling over slippery surfaces or gravel.

Following these tips cannot prevent every accident from happening, but it can prevent some and can mitigate the injuries you may suffer in others.

An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help if you have been injured while riding the roads around Portland and the surrounding areas.

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Fatal Portland Pedestrian Accident Does not Result in Criminal Charges

Pedestrian Injury AttorneyThe Oregonian reports that the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to criminally charge the driver in a pedestrian accident that resulted in the death of a 78-year-old woman and injury to her 80-year-old husband.  Instead police issued tickets for two relatively minor traffic citations.

The auto accident happened on Valentine’s Day morning at the intersection of Southeast 84th Avenue and Division Street in Portland.  The driver was making an eastbound turn from 84th onto Division when he struck the elderly couple, who were crossing southbound on Division.  The driver struck them near the center turn lane.  The woman died at the scene of the accident, and her husband was taken to the hospital.

Thousands of Fatal Pedestrian Accidents a Year

Unfortunately this Portland couple is not alone.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 4,280 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2010 and an estimated 70,000 pedestrians were injured.  NHTSA reports that on average a pedestrian was killed every two hours and one was injured every eight minutes.  Almost three-quarters of the fatalities happened in urban settings like Portland and Eugene.  Eighty percent of them occurred during regular weather conditions.  About two-thirds of the accidents happened at night.  Pedestrians aged 65 or older accounted for almost 1/5 of the fatalities.  More than two-thirds of the pedestrians killed were males, and alcohol was involved in almost half of the fatalities.

Even in a state like Oregon where some drivers are more aware of pedestrian rights and safety, pedestrians are still killed.  NHTSA reports there were 56 pedestrian fatalities in Oregon in 2010, which accounted for 17.7 percent of the traffic accidents in the state that year.

Elderly Victims of Traffic Accidents

In 2009, NHTSA reports that 62 people aged 65 or older were killed in Oregon traffic accidents.  That is out of a total 377 traffic accidents in the state that year.  Forty-five of the victims were age 70 or older, and ten of them were age 85 or older.  These numbers show that senior citizens and those who love them need to be particularly careful.

Ways to Prevent being Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

Drivers have an absolute duty to pay attention to the road and to respect the rights and safety of pedestrians.  Unfortunately, some drivers do not uphold that duty and pedestrians wind up hurt or killed.  If that happens to you or a loved one, you should contact an Oregon licensed attorney.  However, there are some steps you can take to try to prevent being a victim.  NHTSA recommends pedestrians take these steps:

  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks if possible;
  • Stop and look left, right, and then left again before crossing;
  • If a parked vehicle blocks your view, stop at the edge of the vehicle and look around it before crossing;
  • If walking at night, carry a flashlight;
  • If walking at night, wear retro-reflective clothing which highlights body movements;
  • Walk on sidewalks if at all possible; and
  • If you are forced to walk in the street, walk facing traffic.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident in Portland or the rest of Oregon, do not hesitate to contact a skilled personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your options.

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Dog Bite Injuries: More than Just a Scratch

Dog Bite InjuryDogs are man’s best friend. But when that friendship takes a turn that result can be a devastating dog bite.  The recent attack of a Portland girl by a large dog in Gresham last week is only one example.  Television station KATU reports that the four-year-old child arrived at Mount Hood Medical Center covered in blood and bruises.  Doctors had to stitch up both sides of the girl’s face, as well as her shoulder.  Her back was covered in both bite and scratch marks.  Family member witnesses say the dog came out of nowhere, chased the girl, and pinned her to the ground.  They saw a large piece of skin was ripped off of her face on both sides.

Prevalence and Severity of Dog  Bite Injuries

This girl’s story is not an isolated incident.  A five year review, available on PubMed, of the severity and management of dog bites showed alarming results.  Researchers reviewed the charts of all children under age sixteen sought dog bite treatment in two hospitals between 1998 and 2002.  Of the 287 cases reviewed, almost sixty percent of the children were bitten in the face.  The mean age of the children was seven years old.  Over half of the bites required sutures, and over a quarter of them were considered “severe,” which means they required more than ten sutures.  The children suffering the more severe bites tended to be the younger children in the study sample. One child even died.

The numbers from other research are not any more reassuring.  The Centers for Disease Control report that nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year and half of those victims are children.  One-fifth of those bites is so severe it requires medical attention.  In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery because of dog bite injuries.  In addition to being disfiguring or even deadly, these injuries can also be extremely expensive.  According to KTVZ, in 2012 State Farm spend $1.2 million on dog bite claims in Oregon alone.

None of this is to say that all dog bites are particularly vicious.  Like any injury, some are more serious than others.  That most dog bites do not result in serious injury does not mean that no dog bites result in serious injury.  The CDC provides some tips to teach children in hopes of preventing such a tragedy.

Tips For Children to Prevent a Dog Bite

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog or scream.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

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Elder Abuse: Financial Exploitation and Spotting the Signs

We previously addressed the signs of physical, sexual, and emotional elder abuse.  While those types of abuse account for horrific cases of abuse of loved ones, they are not the only type of abuse.  In fact, experts suggest that the single most common type of abuse affecting seniors is financial exploitation.

What is Financial Exploitation?

The Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations Oregon Administrative Rules define financial exploitation.  Basically it is wrongfully taking a senior’s money, assets, property, or medication.  This wrongful taking can be through lies, tricks, force, harassment, or undue influence.  It also includes the misuse or misappropriation of money from a senior’s bank accounts, or failing to use the elder person’s resources for the benefit, support, and maintenance of that person.

How Common is Financial Exploitation?

Unfortunately, financial exploitation of the elderly is all too common.  The National Adult Protective Services Association provides statistics on the prevalence of elder abuse.  According to their research, 1 in 20 older adults indicate some form of recent perceived financial mistreatment.  However, on one out of every forty-four cases of financial abuse is ever reported.  One out of ten financial abuse victims will have to resort to care provided by Medicaid due to their abuse.  Those who suffer from cognitive impairment and who need assistant with daily activities are most at risk for this sort of abuse.

What are the Effects of Financial Exploitation?

Financial abuse is not simply a matter of money.  Just as physical or sexual abuse can affect victims in more than immediate ways, so can financial abuse.  It can result in depression and a loss of an ability to trust.  Victims may feel shame, fear, anger, or many other negative emotions.  Due to the advanced age and often deteriorating health of victims they often will not be able to replace their assets through employment.  This can result in an inability to care for oneself or even a loss of residence.  This is why it is so important for concerned family members to help the abuse victim to get in touch with an elder abuse attorney who can help them recover their assets through the legal system.

What are the Signs of Financial Exploitation

As with other types of abuse, the Oregon Department of Human Services has created a list of warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of financial exploitation.  Those signs include:

  • Unusual or inappropriate activity surrounding investment properties or in bank accounts, including the use of ATM cards, to make large or repeated withdrawals.
  • Signatures on checks, etc. that do not resemble the person’s signature, or signatures when the person cannot write.
  • Power of attorney given, or recent changes in or creation of a will or trust, when the person is incapable of making such decisions.
  • Unpaid bills, overdue rent, utility shut-off notices.
  • Excessive spending by a caregiver on himself for new clothing, jewelry, automobiles.
  • Lack of spending on the care of the person, including personal grooming items.
  • Missing personal belongings, such as art, silverware or jewelry.
  • Recent sale of assets and properties.

If you believe an elderly loved one is suffering or has suffered from any type of abuse, contact an Oregon elder abuse attorney.  If you believe a crime has been committed you should also call the police, and if there is a medical emergency you should dial 9-1-1.

Related Blog Posts

Elder Mistreatment and Nursing Home Abuse
Has Your Elderly Loved One Been Abused or Neglected?