Thousands of elderly persons suffer from elder abuse, according to the U.S. Department of Human Health Administration on Aging (AoA).  The abuser is often someone they know, trust and depend on, such as a caretaker or relative.  Elder abuse can happen in the elderly person’s home, in a nursing home or an assisted living facility—and it can happen to anyone. Nursing home abuse lawyers handle many cases involving elder abuse and get a first glimpse of the anguish it causes the victims and their families.

Examples of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is the act of knowingly committing an intentional or negligent act that poses a serious risk of harm or causes harm to an elderly person. Examples include:

  • Abandonment – desertion of an elderly person by an individual who is responsible for their care
  • Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • Failure or neglecting to provide basic needs such as food, shelter, necessary medical care or protection
  • Concealing or illegally taking or misusing funds, property or assets that belong to an elderly person for someone else’s benefit

Warning Signs

To prevent elder abuse, you have to be able to identify it. Elder abuse is not always visible.  Knowing the warning signs will help you put a stop to it before it goes too far.  Every state has its definition of elder abuse, and every state has laws in place to prevent it.

Signs of elder abuse:

  • Appearance of bed sores, poor hygiene, inadequate medical care or unexplained weight loss—an indication of possible neglect
  • Bruises, burns, abrasions or pressure marks—an indication of physical abuse, mistreatment or neglect
  • Bruises on the breasts or genital area–a sign of sexual abuse
  • Behavioral changes, e.g., the person becomes withdrawn, depressed or suddenly extremely moody
  • Unexplained change in finances, indicating possible exploitation
  • Change in the relationship between the elderly person and their caretaker; the elderly person appears apprehensive or resentful of the caretaker

What You Can Do

You can protect your loved one from elder abuse by keeping the lines of communication open and being proactively involved in their care, be it at home or in a nursing home. Always be on alert for any signs of a problem. If your loved one is in a nursing home make sure to visit regularly; not just to see how he or she is doing, but how well they are being cared for. Take some time to get to know the staff who will be responsible for the care of your loved one, and let them know that you plan on being a frequent visitor. Sometimes knowing the family members are keeping a close watch keeps staff in line and ensures loved ones are properly taken care of.

If something does not seem right, do not hesitate to convey your concerns to the staff. If talking to staff does not reassure you, contact the Adult Protective Services agency in your area. You can also contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman in your area.

Should You Retain a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?

It would be wise to take advantage of a first free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer. You can talk about your situation, get some information on laws that are designed to protect the elderly, and learn what your options are should you need to have a nursing home abuse lawyer intervene on your loved one’s behalf.  Give us a call today to set up an appointment.