As a personal injury law firm, we often meet victims of elder abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, it can be challenging for adult children to protect their parents against elderly abuse. Recognizing the signs and symptoms and knowing what to do if you suspect wrongful treatment of a loved one is vital to ensuring their safety. From our Colorado nursing home and elder abuse lawyers, here are things that you can do to protect your parents from elderly abuse.
Understand That Elder Abuse Is a Serious Problem
As you set out to prevent elderly abuse, it’s essential to understand the severity of the problem. In fact, for the millions of Americans who live in nursing homes, the average nursing home receives more than 20 complaints of abuse and neglect per home per year. These nursing home elder abuse statistics make it clear that abuse is an ongoing and serious issue.
Abuse may occur at the hand of a family member, friend, acquaintance or professional caregiver. Be alert to the fact that abuse of seniors is a prevalent problem, even if you don’t hear about it. With vigilance, you can recognize warning signs that something is wrong with your loved one.
Know the Types of Elder Abuse
There are several different ways that elder abuse occurs. Identifying the elder abuse types can help you monitor your loved one’s living environment and social interactions. Some types of elder abuse are:
- Assault and battery – direct physical assaults and use of force
- Denial of basic hygiene
- Refusal to let a senior take care of the management of their daily lifestyle and affairs to the extent that they are able
- Emotional abuse; belittling; gaslighting
- Prohibiting a senior from seeing family or friends; Not allowing the senior to come and go as they choose and be as mobile as possible
- Sexual abuse
- Scams like phishing and deceptive emails and phone calls
- Financial exploitation; mismanagement of a senior’s finances
- Ignoring medical care; poor nutrition
- Discrediting warning signs of abuse and neglect
- Refusing to allow a senior to practice their religion to the extent that they are able
Elder abuse can come in many forms. Seniors and individuals of all ages have physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual needs. When these needs are either abused or neglected, a senior is a victim. Harm may be co-occurring and involve several categories at once.
Beware of Medical Malpractice
One of the kinds of harm that can occur to a senior is medical malpractice. Proper medical care for a senior is an integral part of their entire life plan and daily care. A healthcare professional has a duty to provide competent medical services to their elderly patients.
There is no difference in the required standard of care when the senior is on Medicare, private insurance or even when paying directly for services. Proper health care should take the senior’s age into account when recognizing symptoms, hereditary problems and determining a quality of life treatment plan. Medical malpractice may be a qualifying event for financial compensation for an abused or neglected older person.
Learn About Common Misconceptions About Elder Abuse
When it comes to senior care, there are a lot of common misconceptions about elder abuse. For example, some people think that only friends and family can be responsible for harming seniors. In fact, institutional harm to seniors is a chronic and systemic problem. Other common points of confusion include:
- Abuse is always easy to detect – FALSE!
- Emotional and mental abuse is not harmful – FALSE!
- Seniors aren’t aware when they’re being abused – FALSE!
- There’s nothing that you can do about senior abuse – FALSE!
- Educated and intelligent seniors can’t fall for scams – FALSE!
- Caregivers are overworked, so some neglect or abuse is not surprising – FALSE!
- It’s up to a senior to report their conditions if they’re unhappy about it – FALSE!
If you believe that elder abuse has occurred or is occurring to a parent, don’t hesitate to take action. There is no excuse for the mistreatment of an elder. You can fight back to protect your parents’ rights and ensure their safety.
Be Vigilant About Financial Exploitation
One kind of elderly abuse that can be particularly damaging is financial exploitation. Seniors often have limited income. What they have, they diligently saved for their future. Too many times, individuals take advantage of seniors and their finances.
Elder financial abuse can even come from the very people who are charged with protecting the individual. A trustee, attorney, clergy person or even family member can be responsible for misusing a person’s funds. Ensuring that your parent has access to information about their own finances and there is transparency can assist with preventing and fighting back against financial abuse of elders.
Report Abuse When It Occurs
Protecting your parents against elderly abuse means reporting abuse when you suspect it. You may need to call 911 and take action for your loved one’s immediate safety. A report may be made to Adult Protective Services and the police. Reporting elder abuse is a critical part of both protecting loved ones and holding offenders accountable for their actions. Once you make a report, be sure to follow up and ask for copies of any reports that may be public.
Bring a Legal Action When It’s Appropriate
It may be appropriate to bring a legal claim in response to elderly abuse. Your parents may deserve financial compensation for what they have endured. The individual offender or the institution that they work for may be financially liable for the victim for damages. Compensation may include the cost of medical care and non-economic damages.
A senior may endure severe pain and suffering and mental anguish in what are supposed to be the golden years of their lives. They deserve fair payment for the many ways that they suffer because of the abuse. To receive compensation, the victim must take action to file a legal claim.
Contact an Attorney
If you suspect that your loved one may be suffering from elder abuse, please contact us. Reaching out to an attorney is the first step to securing experienced representation for your loved one’s elder abuse claim. We’re proud of our work and case results. That’s why our law firm is committed to helping victims fight back and receive justice. Contact us today.