Elder abuse is an alarming and growing problem. It can take many forms, including physical, emotional, or financial. Unfortunately, elder abuse often goes undetected because those affected may be unable to recognize it or too fearful to speak up.
If you have a loved one in elder care—whether they’re living at home or in a nursing home—it’s important that you know how to identify signs of elder abuse so you can get help for them as soon as possible. In addition to recognizing the signs of elder abuse, there are several steps you should take if you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected.
This article will provide an overview of those steps and cover how working with an elder care attorney could be beneficial in filing a claim against the abuser, and getting the justice your loved one deserves.
What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. If you suspect elder abuse, there are steps that you can take to ensure your loved one is safe and that elder abuse is prevented in the future. Here are five key steps to take if you suspect elder abuse:
1. Know the Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
Firstly, it’s important to learn the signs of elder abuse so that you can be alert and take action by hiring an elder care attorney if you suspect abuse is occurring. Elder abuse is any action that causes harm or distress to an elder, such as physical violence, emotional maltreatment, financial exploitation, neglect, or sexual abuse.
Common signs of elder abuse include:
- Financial exploitation
- Emotional withdrawal
- Malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, or other physical injuries that are unexplained
- Changes in behavior or the appearance of fear around certain people
- Repeated complaints about mistreatment or neglect
2. Talk to the Individual and Ask Questions
Speak directly with the elder in a private and safe environment. Ask questions that can help you assess whether elder abuse has occurred or is still occurring. Be patient and supportive, and make sure they feel comfortable opening up to you.
Potential questions you could ask include:
- Have you been injured or become ill because of something that happened to you?
- Has anyone taken your money, property, or possessions without your permission?
- Do you feel safe in this nursing home/facility?
- Are you being treated with respect?
3. Document Your Observations
Documenting the signs of elder abuse can be essential in helping you take action. Write down everything you observe, including the dates and times of any incidents or conversations you’ve had with your elderly loved one, as well as medical staff or other caretakers.
It’s also important to document any signs of elder abuse, including photos and written notes of any physical or emotional injuries that have occurred. This information should be provided to an elder care attorney as soon as possible so they can file a claim for elder abuse.
4. Report Abuse to the Facility and to the Authorities
If elder abuse is suspected, it’s important to report your concerns to the proper authorities as soon as possible. You can contact Adult Protective Services by phone and provide them with the information you have documented.
You should also contact the elder abuse hotline and report your concerns. Depending on the type of elder abuse, you may need to contact additional agencies such as law enforcement or an experienced elder care attorney.
5. Contact a Lawyer Who Specializes in Elder Care
If elder abuse is confirmed, an elder care attorney can help you with filing a claim and investigating the issue. Search online for an elder care attorney to get the help you need.
An elder care attorney can assist with developing a plan for protecting your family member and stopping the mistreatment, as well as recovering any financial losses that have occurred. They can also help you navigate any elder law issues and provide advice on the next steps to take.
6. Follow Up on Your Concerns and Ensure That Action Is Taken
Once elder abuse is reported, follow up and make sure that the proper action is taken. Contact the elder care facility or agency where you reported the elder abuse and ask for an update.
If necessary, contact your elder care attorney and discuss any additional steps that need to be taken. It may also be helpful to contact advocacy organizations or elder abuse prevention groups in your area to see if they can provide additional support or resources.
Put Elder Abuse to a Stop
Elder abuse is a serious problem that affects many elderly adults, but you can do your part to help put elder abuse to a stop. Recognizing the signs of elder abuse, documenting any evidence, and reporting your concerns can all help ensure that elder abuse victims receive the protection they need.
Most importantly, put stereotypes about the elderly to rest and protect older adults from elder abuse so they can live in safety and with dignity.
Take Legal Action with an Elder Care Attorney at PMHP
At Prieto, Marigliano, Holbert & Prieto, LLC we believe in attaining justice for the elderly who have been injured or abused. Our nursing home neglect lawyers in Atlanta are immensely skilled with more than two decades of experience and an unyielding dedication to pursuing personal injury claims.
We are eager to use our years of expertise and dedication towards building your nursing home negligence case. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with an elder abuse or exploitation case, schedule a free consultation with us today for expert legal advice.