How to Assess and Intervene in a Case of Elder Abuse or Neglect
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on June 25, 2019
Elder abuse is a horrifying concept to consider, but sadly it happens more often than a lot of us know. While most times when we hear the word “abuse” we think of black eyes and bloody noses. However, when it comes to elder abuse, the signs that it is happening are often much more subtle. Elder abuse is also often hard to believe. We want to trust people, it’s in our human nature, so we assume that someone in a caregiver role is a good person. But when your elderly loved one is out of sight it can be hard to trust that they are getting all the care and attention they deserve.
There are signs of nursing home abuse, or elder abuse, that anyone with a loved one in a caregiving scenario should keep an eye out for. But what do you do if you suspect elder abuse? Or what do you do if know that elder abuse is happening and need it to stop?
How to Assess the Situation
What To Do When You Suspect Elder Abuse
One of the first things that you must do if you suspect your loved one is being abused in their caregiving environment is to determine the type of abuse they’re suffering from. There are multiple kinds of elder abuse. Cases range from financial abuse, like a caregiver stealing money from one of their patients, to physical or even sexual abuse. If your loved one is suffering from bedsores then they are suffering from physical elder abuse. If you’ve found them in wet bedding or with poor hygiene then they are suffering from neglect which is another form of abuse. Once you’ve determined the kind of elder abuse your loved one is suffering from it’s time to gather evidence.
Documenting the abuse is important, as well, when first assessing the situation. If there are visible bed sores on your loved one, take pictures of them. Document when they are hungry or appear under-fed. Take note of the day and time you find them in wet bedding. Then document the frequency of that issue occurring. If your loved one suspects that they are being stolen from, document how much money they have on them every time you visit and cross-reference it with their spending. After you have evidence gathered that shows elder abuse is occurring, it’s time to take action.
How to Intervene When Elder Abuse is Happening
Stopping the Hurt and Helping Your Loved One
If you’re sure that your loved one is suffering from a form of elder abuse, it’s time to intervene. You may think the first thing to do is get your loved one out of the situation. However, confronting the suspected abuser is actually the first step. If you can get verbal confirmation from your loved one that abuse is occurring, take that down in documentation, too. If you only have visual confirmation, and your loved one cannot verbally confirm, go to the administration of the caregiving facility. Trying to get an interview with the suspected interviewer should be your first step. By getting their side of the story, you can further understand what happened and how to move forward. However, if the suspected abuser is not willing to cooperate then go to their higher-ups and bring your suspicions to their attention.
Once you’ve confronted the suspected abuser or the facility, it’s time to get your loved one out of the situation. Whether you are moving them to another caregiving facility or into your own home, it’s pertinent to get them into a safe space. As you remove your loved one from the facility where they suffered abuse, be sure to keep every piece of paperwork. Document your reason for removing your loved one from their care. This information is on official record and could help you should you decide to take the suspected abuser or caregiving facility to court.
Over 40 Years of Combined Experience in Elder Abuse Cases
Once your loved one is safe from harm, the next step is considering taking legal action. At Cooper and Friedman, we have years of experience in nursing home neglect and elder abuse. We believe that caregiving facilities should be held accountable for failing to provide proper treatment to those in their care.
If you, or a loved one, has suffered abuse while under the care of a caregiving facility or nursing home then it is time to contact us today. We will help explain your rights to you and offer a free 15-minute consultation to hear your case. Call 502-459-7555 right now to speak with an experienced elder law attorney for a free case consultation.