Elder abuse and neglect a growing concern for families and society

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What will happen after I file my nursing home complaint?”


The population of the United States is getting older, literally. While in general the modern elderly are more active, independent and healthy than at any time in recorded history, the sheer number of elderly persons needing basic and extraordinary care is growing. As the so-called Baby-Boomer generation nears and enters retirement, the number of persons needing basic and extraordinary care is expected to continue to increase.

Birthday Cake Charlotte Injury Attorney North Carolina Elder Neglect LawyerMany elderly persons are outliving their retirement. Many have few opportunities for gainful employment, even if they can work, and face struggles to generate enough income to cover basic expenses, not to mention soaring medical costs. Inevitably these persons turn to their families for help. Families are faced with footing the bills for nursing homes or finding people to care for loved ones.

Unfortunately, many families are unequipped to deal with the expenses associated with caring for elderly loved ones. The American Psychological Association estimates that some 4 million older Americans fall victim to abuse or neglect every year. Observers report, however, that for every reported case of abuse or neglect, as many as 23 go unreported. Most instances of elder abuse or neglect do not occur in nursing homes. Sadly, most instances of elder abuse and neglect occur at home. Most often, family members, household members or paid caregivers are the abusers.  

In a shocking case, police in Memphis, Tennessee say a brother and sister neglected their own mother, causing her legs to burst open and rot from the inside. By the time they called for help, it was too late. Hospice workers on hand to transport the mother for hospice care instead called an ambulance. Seventy-seven-year-old Betty Cleveland was taken to Methodist North Hospital, where she later died. Neighbors described Ms. Cleveland’s son and daughter as polite and quiet. They did not even know that Ms. Cleveland lived in the house and had never seen her.

“I wouldn’t wish that [kind of suffering] on anybody, especially on your parent,” one neighbor said.

Dora Ivey of the Aging Commission of the Mid-South said the case is emblematic of an all-too-common trend. She said family members responsible for caring for elderly loved ones are “not changing them, they’re not feeding them, they’re stealing their meds, they’re stealing their money.” The Aging Commission helps families who become overwhelmed with caring for aging loved ones.

Ms. Cleveland’s son and daughter—Rodney Cleveland and Rose Fayne—were each charged with willful physical abuse or gross negligence.

North Carolina law protects its aging citizens from abuse. Any person who has reasonable cause to believe a disabled adult is in need of protective services must report such information. The State can prosecute abusers, while those representing the interests of abuse victims can prosecute civil claims against persons or facilities responsible for the abuse or neglect.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is a victim of elder abuse or neglect, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment today. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential abuse or neglect claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.



About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.











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