As Americans continue to live longer and longer, long-term elder care has become practically a necessity. While it’s a difficult decision to place your aging parent or grandparent in a nursing home, or even in the full-time care of a family member, you do your best to choose an option that will best benefit your parent or grandparent. Unfortunately, these people can’t always be trusted, and oftentimes the elderly don’t have the voice to speak up for themselves when they’re treated poorly. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant, know the signs of abuse, and understand how to deal with the situation should your loved one ever be neglected or abused.
While it’s not a pleasant topic, and you never want to imagine something so terrible happening to your loved one, it’s important to know the types of abuse, so that you can understand how best to protect your elder against them. Most elder care abuse occurs in two different categories:
Financial Elder Abuse
This typically occurs when your loved one no longer has the ability to monitor their own finances. In some situations, it may be as simple as a family member taking over their accounts, and looking to receive their inheritance early. In other cases, it may be more difficult to discern the issue. Sometimes a person may look to gain a position of trust with your elderly loved one, only to use that position of trust to force your loved one to sign over property, or to forge signatures themselves. If you notice unusual expenses, bills not being paid on time, or your elderly family member being isolated from you and the rest of the family, this may be a sign that they are being financially exploited.
Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect
While we do trust the care of our loved ones to nursing homes and residences, it’s important to remember that these facilities are still businesses. This means that they are still looking to turn a profit, and in doing so, may not always have the best interests of your loved one at heart. A lot of times, elderly care residences can be understaffed, and sometimes the staff they hire are underpaid, or underqualified for the position. Unfortunately, this can lead to neglect of your parent or grandparent which can be just as detrimental to their health as abuse is.
In more violent cases, physical abuse has occurred in nursing homes and senior care residences. 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 usually takes place, it’s important to know the warning signs. If you’re aware of, and watch for the warning signs, you’re taking another step in protecting your loved one. If your senior loved one ever shows signs of abuse, like unexplained injuries, a sudden fear of certain caretakers, or is missing personal belongings, it’s time to take action.
Here’s what to look for when your elderly loved one is under the primary care of a nursing home or assisted living residency:
If your loved one has been neglected, you may notice:
- Malnourishment or dehydration
- Bedsores, or other unattended medical needs
- Soiled clothing or bed linens
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Medications being improperly administered
- Medications not being administered at all
If your loved one has been abused, you may notice:
- Unexplained bruises or scrapes
- More frequent falls
- More than normal pain
- Extreme personal injuries, like broken limbs with no explanation
- Unusual bouts of depression
- Your loved one may seem more fearful than usual
Abuse extends to verbal and psychological abuse as well. If your elderly loved one seems to be afraid of their caretakers, one caretaker in particular, or generally seems more frightened than usual, this can be a sign that they are being emotionally abused. Any excessive yelling, berating, isolating, humiliating, or bullying of the senior, are all forms of emotional and verbal abuse that can not be tolerated.
Additionally, the most common form of elder care abuse is financial exploitation. Unfortunately, if your loved one is not capable of handling their own finances, it’s possible that their caretaker may take advantage of them financially. Most instances of financial exploitation fall under the following categories:
- Misuse of elder’s checks, credit cards, or financial accounts
- Stealing of checks, money, or precious belongings
- Forging of elder’s signature
- Authorization of withdrawals or transfers of monies that the elder did not agree to
- Stealing the patient’s identity.
What You Can Do
Sadly, most cases of elder care abuse go unreported. Whether the senior’s family members are unaware of the situation, or the senior is unable to report their troubles themselves, it can be difficult to identify and put a stop to elder neglect and abuse. However, if you suspect any form of abuse or neglect, it’s important that you report the situation promptly and immediately. If your senior 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’s time to talk to an experienced elder abuse lawyer about your senior loved one’s legal rights.
While filing a complaint with the appropriate authorities is the right thing to do, it’s usually a very slow, and painful process that is unlikely to end in the results you want. It’s important to file a complaint in order to make the situation known, in the event that officials may be able to shut down the facility, helping numerous other families avoid the same terrible care that your 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 attorney comes in. An attorney who has previously handled similar cases will be able to help you figure out who owns the nursing home or facility, and ensure that the persons responsible are held accountable for the mistreatment your loved one received.
If your senior loved one was neglected, abused, or financially exploited, they deserve compensation, even if they may not be able to advocate for themselves. If you suspect any kind of mistreatment, call the Epstein Law Firm today. Jack Epstein has handled many elder care abuse cases, and has the experience to get your loved one the compensation they deserve.
Call us today at 773-522-7000 or submit a request to schedule your free initial consultation.
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