As Americans continue to live longer and longer, long-term care for the elderly has become virtually a necessity. While it is a difficult decision to place your father or aged grandfather in a nursing home, or even in the full-time care of a family member, you do everything possible to choose an option that will best benefit your father or grandfather.
Unfortunately, these people cannot always be trusted, and often the elderly do not have the voice to speak for themselves when they are badly treated. That is why it is important to remain vigilant, to know the signs of abuse and to understand how to deal with the situation in case your loved one is neglected or mistreated.
While it is not a pleasant subject, and you never want to imagine something so terrible happening to your loved one, it is important to know the types of abuse, so you can understand the best way to protect your elder against them. Most abuses of the elderly occur in two different categories:
Abuse of Financial Elders
This usually happens when your loved one no longer has the ability to control their own finances. In some situations, it can be as simple as a family member assuming their accounts, and looking to receive their inheritance early. In other cases, it may be more difficult to discern the issue. Sometimes, a person can look to gain a position of trust with their elderly loved one, only to use that position of trust to force their loved one to sign on the property, or forge signatures themselves. If you notice unusual expenses, bills that are not paid on time, or your elderly family member who is isolated from you and the rest of the family, this may be a sign that they are being financially exploited.
Abuse and neglect in the nursing home
While we trust the care of our loved ones to nursing homes and residences, it is important to remember that these facilities are still businesses. This means that they are still looking to make a profit, and in doing so, they do not always have the best interests of their loved one at heart. Many times, nursing homes may be inadequate, and sometimes the staff they hire are poorly paid, or are not qualified for the position. Unfortunately, this can lead to the negligence of your father or grandfather that can be as harmful to your health as the abuse is.
In more violent cases, physical abuse has occurred in nursing homes and nursing homes. The abuse can be anything from physical harm, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse, to stealing property from your elder’s room.
Now that you know how neglect and abuse often occur, it is important to know the warning signs. If you are aware of, and are attentive to warning signs, you are taking another step in protecting your loved one. If your older loved one ever shows signs of abuse, such as unexplained injuries, a sudden fear of certain caregivers, or is losing personal belongings, it’s time to take action.
Here is what to look for when your elderly loved one is under the primary care of a nursing home or assisted residence:
If your loved one has been neglected, you may notice:
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Seams or other unattended medical needs
- Dirty clothes or bedding
- Non-sanitary living conditions
- Medications that are administered incorrectly
- Medications that are not administered at all
If your loved one has been abused, you may notice:
- Unexplained bruises or scrapes
- Most frequent falls
- More than normal pain
- Extreme personal injuries, such as broken limbs without explanation
- Unusual episodes of depression
- Your loved one may seem more fearful than usual
The abuse extends to verbal and psychological abuse as well. If your elderly loved one seems to be afraid of their caregivers, a particular caregiver, or usually seems more frightened than usual, this may be a sign that they are being emotionally abused. Any excess of screaming, reprimand, isolation, humiliation or intimidation of the elderly are all forms of emotional and verbal abuse that cannot be tolerated.
In addition, the most common form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. Unfortunately, if your loved one is not able to manage their own finances, it is possible that their caregiver can take advantage of them financially. Most cases of financial exploitation are classified into the following categories:
- Misuse of old people’s checks, credit cards or financial accounts
- Stealing checks, money or precious objects
- Forging the signature of the elder
- Authorization of withdrawals or transfers of money that the elder does not accept
- Stealing the patient’s identity
What you can do
Unfortunately, most cases of elder abuse are not reported. If members of the elder’s family are not aware of the situation, or the elder cannot report their problems on their own, it can be difficult to identify and put an end to elder neglect and abuse. However, if you suspect any form of abuse or neglect, it is important that you report the situation immediately. If your older loved one is in immediate danger, you should also call the local authorities immediately. After the appropriate parties have been alerted and the situation is neutralized, it is time to talk to an experienced elder abuse lawyer about the legal rights of your loved one.
While filing a complaint with the appropriate authorities is the right thing to do, it is usually a very slow and painful process that is unlikely to end in the results you want. It is important to file a complaint to publicize the situation, in the event that officials can close the facility, helping numerous other families avoid the same terrible care their loved one received. However, simply filing a complaint will not give you the compensation your elderly loved one deserves for the injuries sustained when they were supposed to be under the care of a facility.
That’s where an experienced lawyer comes from. An attorney who has handled similar cases before will be able to help you find out who the owner of the nursing home or facility is and ensure that the responsible persons are responsible for the ill-treatment received by their loved one.
If your elderly loved one was neglected, mistreated or financially exploited, he deserves compensation, even if he cannot advocate for himself. If you suspect any type of abuse, call the Epstein Law Firm today. Jack Epstein has handled many cases of elder abuse, and has the experience of getting his loved one the compensation they deserve.