If you suspect that abuse of the elderly is happening in a nursing home where you have a loved one, you need to take legal action to remedy the situation. Speaking with the facility isn’t enough to make the changes that it’s going to take to ensure that all of the residents receive the respect and care that they deserve.
When a nursing home is facing a lawsuit for abuse or neglect of the elderly, they have to take action. They can’t just tell you what you want to hear. They know that someone is watching their actions which forces them to investigate and make changes.
It’s sad that it takes suing a nursing home to force them to make changes, but a nursing home is a business and like any other business, threatening their bottom line is the best way to get them to do the right thing.
What are some of the common forms of elderly abuse?
Oftentimes elders in a nursing home aren’t abused in a traditional sense. They aren’t struck, touched inappropriately, or yelled at and intimidated. Instead, they aren’t provided with the care that they need due to neglect.
Medications aren’t always given out. Meals and water may be skipped and bathing could as well. Taking care of an elderly person is a lot of work. In a nursing home, there are dozens of residents who need care. This puts a lot of strain on the staff of the facility.
But having a lot of work isn’t an excuse. When elderly people are placed in a nursing home there is an expectation that they will be cared for. Therefore, if you’re worried that your loved one is being neglected, then you need to do something about it.
It’s common to feel frustration when dealing with elderly people who are easily confused and often argue and refuse to follow instructions. Trying to get a group of people to take pills who are hellbent on not taking pills, can be very mentally exhausting.
But, the staff at a nursing home should expect that they’re going to run into problems with residents. Therefore, they should learn coping mechanisms that allow them to deal with frustration without losing their temper.
No matter how hard their job is, yelling at an elderly person, calling them names, mocking them, or belittling them in any way is never acceptable.
Physical abuse involves any type of physical interaction with a nursing home resident that involves touching them in a manner that is either deliberately harmful or has the potential to harm them. This could include pushing, punching, or kicking a resident. It could also include handling them more roughly than is necessary.
For example, if a resident needs help to get into bed, an abuser might grab them too hard and push them into the bed forcefully. Or, when helping them to dress they may grab them harshly or pull clothing off forcefully.
Sexual abuse is without a doubt, one of the most devastating ways that elderly people suffer abuse when they’re living in a nursing home. The idea that a sick individual would take advantage of an elderly person who is likely not mentally sharp enough to know what’s happening to them is deplorable.
But, it happens all the time. Sexual predators see nursing home residents as the perfect victims. They are helpless, don’t communicate well, and probably won’t understand what is happening, so they won’t report it to anyone.
When an elderly person no longer has the mental faculties to manage their finances, they become a target. Caregivers who take advantage of elderly people who are no longer able to understand their finances will slowly leech off their funds. The fact that someone who should be caring for an elderly person would take money that they spent their lives earning, is truly sad.
Unfortunately, financial abuse in the elderly in nursing homes is far more common than many people realize. When people place an elderly person in a nursing home, their families are placing trust in that facility to care for them.
Sometimes, that trust is misplaced. It’s always good to hope for the best but prepare in case the best doesn’t come to pass. In regards to elderly abuse, this is especially true.
You always need to be on the lookout for signs of abuse, and this includes financial abuse. Older people in nursing homes who have their families largely ignore and neglect them are the ones who most frequently suffer at the hands’ abusers.
Therefore, by simply being around more and keeping your eyes open, you can help to protect your loved one from all types of elderly abuse.
How Common Is Financial Abuse Of The Elderly In Nursing Homes?
Each year over half a million elderly people are the victims of financial abuse . Now, not all of these people are living in nursing homes. However, the fact that so many elderly people become victims of financial abuse should put you on high alert.
Why are so many elderly people targeted? For one thing, over 70% of the wealth in the United States is owned by people 50 and over . For another thing, some elderly people aren’t as mentally sharp as they once were. This makes it easier to deceive them.
So, when you have a large group of people who have money and may be vulnerable to scams due to declining mental faculties, you are going to have people trying to take advantage of them.
Monitoring Your Loved One’s Finances Can Help To Prevent Financial Abuse
How can you help to prevent financial abuse in the elderly? The first thing you need to do is to pay attention to their finances. Do you see any checks being drawn from their account without good reason?
Monitor their credit as well. Be on the lookout for newly opened credit cards or loans that they may have taken out. Being vigilant can help you to catch financial abuse when it first starts. This can minimize the impact that it has.
Being vigilant and asking questions will also let the staff at the nursing home know that you’re keeping an eye on things. This can help to keep honest people honest.
What To Do If You Witness Abuse Of The Elderly In A Nursing Home
If you see abuse of the elderly in a nursing home, the first thing that you’ll probably feel is shock. Followed by anger, sadness, and empathy for the victim. While it’s normal to have an emotional response to seeing such a horrific incident, it’s important that you don’t allow your emotions to dictate what you do next.
It would be easy to confront the person, but that wouldn’t do anything to help the victim or to stop the abuse. All that would do is make you feel better.
Call The Police
Elderly people are people with rights just like everyone else. If you see an elderly person suffering abuse and it appears to be a dangerous situation, you should call the police immediately.
The police will come out and at the very least file a report. If they have proof of the abuse they will arrest the abuser. Even if they don’t arrest the abuser, the fact that they were alerted will bring attention to the situation. This should dissuade the abuser from doing anything else for the time being since he knows the police are involved. You can use this time to try to get him removed or take any other steps you feel are necessary.
Record The Abuse
If you have the opportunity to do so, you should absolutely record the abuse. Chances are you have a smartphone, which means you have a video camera with you.
Recording an abuser in the act will provide the police with evidence of the person’s crimes. You can also give it to the administration of the nursing home to encourage his removal. Plus, it can be used as evidence should you feel the need to file a lawsuit.
Report The Abuse To Management
No matter what, you need to report the abuse you have witnessed to management. This will bring the abuse to their attention. It will also let them know that you are paying attention to what is going on.
Nursing home facilities are very leery when it comes to lawsuits, so if they know that you have seen or suspect abuse, they are going to be much more vigilant in monitoring the situation. If you have a loved one who was the victim of the abuse then you might also consider removing them from the home as quickly as possible.
Hire A Lawyer If You Suspect Abuse Of The Elderly
The first thing you should do when you suspect elder abuse is to report the abuse to the management at the facility. You may also want to contact law enforcement depending on the type and extent of the abuse.
Abusers of elderly people can and should account for their actions as these actions are criminal. By holding an individual accountable, it will make an example of them that could serve to warn future predators from making the same mistake.
If they are prosecuted and sentenced to prison, it will also keep them from continuing to abuse any other elderly people. It will also make it virtually impossible for them to find a job in the future caring for anyone since their conviction will be a matter of public record.
While you should prosecute someone for abusing an elderly loved one of yours, you shouldn’t stop there. The nursing home that employed this person is responsible for their actions as well. Nursing homes are negligent if they fail to identify signs of abuse. It’s their responsibility to protect and care for their residents, and if they fail to do that they should be forced to pay damages.
Make Sure You Have Proof Of The Abuse
When you file a lawsuit against a nursing home you’ll have to prove that abuse happened. There are signs of abuse and if you are vigilant, you should spot them. When you do spot them, you need to document it.
For physical injuries, you should take photos. For financial abuse, you should have copies of your loved one’s bank records to show to your attorney and to the court. Having proof that abuse has occurred will strengthen your case. This will increase the likelihood that the nursing home will offer you a sizeable settlement.
Your goal here shouldn’t be to make a financial gain. Your goal should be to hold the nursing home where the abuse happened accountable. A lawsuit where they have to pay out damages will hit them in their bank account. Plus, it will be something that leaves a mark on their reputation in the future.