Protecting the Elderly
The elderly are one of the single most vulnerable groups in our country. They sometimes have health problems and issues communicating, which means they can be susceptible to abuse and neglect, especially if no one is looking out for their best physical or financial interests.
Forms of Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, there are many forms of elder abuse. Elder abuse can include not only negligence and physical abuse, but also financial abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and fraud. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, abuse of the elderly generally occurs in three situations: domestic abuse, which includes mistreatment of an elderly person by someone who has a special relationship with him or her; institutional abuse, which normally occurs in a residential or care facility for the elderly; and self-neglect, which occurs when an older person fails to take proper care of himself or herself, either because of a mental or health issue, or because he or she has made a choice to let his or her health decline.
Nursing Homes and Care Facilities
Many of the most egregious examples of elder abuse occur in residential facilities, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. Nursing homes are typically expensive, and loved ones expect them to provide a high level of care to the elderly. Sadly, that is often not the case. Nursing homes are often short-staffed, either on purpose to save money, or because the facility is poorly managed. When a nursing home does not have enough employees, the result is poor care for its residents. If there aren’t enough nurses or aides to provide adequate treatment, malnutrition, bedsores, infections, injuries, and other medical problems typically result.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
There are different warning signs to be on the lookout for, depending on the type of abuse your loved one has suffered. Generally, changes in personality or arguments between the elderly person and his or her caregiver are signs that some type of abuse is occurring. In addition, any unexplained signs of injury, unusual weight loss, bed sores, sudden changes in the individual’s financial condition, evidence of under-medication or over-medication, or problems with the care facility should be carefully investigated. While there are logical reasons each of these problems could occur, they could also be signs of abuse.
Financial Abuse of the Elderly
Financial abuse of the elderly is also a phenomenon that is sadly on the rise. The elderly are usually vulnerable to financial abuse from a person they trust to manage their affairs. This may be a caretaker, an adult child, or a trusted advisor. The individual may be in a financial bind and may believe the elderly person will not know what has happened. The elderly are also frequently targets of financial abuse from strangers. This can happen through online scams or phone scams, and often occurs when the financial predator scares the elderly person into purchasing a product or service they do not need, or into giving out credit card information or personal identification information such as a social security number.
If you suspect elder abuse, there are some steps you can take. Look for warning signs, and if you suspect abuse, report it immediately. Examine your loved one’s financial statements with their permissions, and look for unauthorized transactions. Visit your loved one as often as you can, and offer to let the caretaker have a break.
Protecting The Elderly From Abuse
If you have trusted the care of your elderly loved one to a nursing home or a caretaker, and he or she has experienced poor care and suffered injuries as a result, you are probably feeling uncertain about what to do and maybe even guilty about what happened. However, it’s not your fault. You may have picked out an excellent facility, but maybe they hired a rogue employee who did something unexpected. The caretaker may have had excellent references, but simply made a mistake on the job.
Instead of feeling guilty, contact an attorney. A high-quality elder abuse attorney will obtain the medical records and nursing home records of your loved one, and will do an investigation about what caused the injuries or death. An attorney can also review financial records and transactions with any eye towards determining if your loved one was taken advantage of by another.
Contact Liberty Law, Oakland’s Elder Abuse Attorney
If your elderly loved one did suffer abuse at the hands of a caretaker, you should find an attorney who will help you seek justice. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that elderly people should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland-San Francisco elder abuse attorney at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000.