According to data available from the National Council on Aging, approximately one out of every 10 people over the age of 60 experience some form of elder abuse. This is abhorrent, and should never occur. Unfortunately, elder abuse is a serious problem that will likely only increase as our population continues to age. Current estimates show that 20% of the US population will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030.
One effort to prevent the abuse of older people in this country is the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI). In an effort to identify and reduce instances of elder abuse in this country, it is vital to understand what the EASI is and how it works.
The Elder Abuse Suspicion Index
The Elder Abuse Suspicion Index is a list of six questions that are intended to help medical professionals determine the best course of action if they suspect the case of elder abuse. The first five of these questions are asked of the patient in a “yes” or “no” format. The final question is answered by the doctor treating the elderly person. The EASI questions are as follows:
Have you relied on people for any of the following: bathing, dressing, shopping, banking, or meals?
Has anyone prevented you from getting food, clothes, medication, glasses, hearing aids, or medical care, or from being with people you wanted to be with?
Have you been upset because someone talked to you in a way that made you feel shamed or threatened?
Has anyone tried to force you to sign papers or to use your money against your will?
Has anyone made you afraid, touched you in ways that you did not want, or hurt you physically?
[For Doctor]: Did you notice any of the following in the last 12 months: poor eye contact, withdrawn nature, malnourishment, hygiene issues, cuts, bruises, inappropriate clothing, or medication compliance issues?
If a patient (or doctor) answers yes to any of these questions, this should raise concerns about possible elder abuse and lead to schedule follow up visits or inquiries. The EASI Is intended to be used as a rapid assessment tool to strengthen reporting requirements that are already in place for suspected elder abuse cases.
A study used to determine the effectiveness of the EASI found that these questions could be asked and answered in approximately two minutes and that 97.2% of doctors found that the use of the assessment would have some impact or a large impact on their practice for these cases. Doctors can use this assessment in conjunction with their medical findings to determine whether or not to refer their patient to social services or adult protective services for further evaluation.
The signs and symptoms of elder abuse are not always obvious, and they can manifest in many different ways. In many cases, seniors can suffer from multiple types of elder abuse at one time. This is called polyvictimization. With the EASI, healthcare professionals have another tool to use to help them provide quality care and protection for elderly people. If you believe your loved one is a victim of abuse, speak with a compassionate elder abuse lawyer in Anaheim, CA.