Elder abuse is one of the fastest growing and most insidious problems in America and around the world. It often starts off with a rather innocuous look, your elderly neighbor, aunt, or parent suddenly has a new younger friend. At first everything seems to be well, in fact you might even think it is great they have companionship on such a regular basis.
Eventually their new friend starts to progress down the path towards abuse. The abuse itself can take two or three forms, physical, psychological, and both. In the case of psychological elder abuse money and assets are usually taken, starting at a smaller value and with the thief working their way up. Often confusing the elderly individual and masking their stealing as financial “help or investments”. Since ability to handle finances declines steadily with age, it becomes easier for these scam artists to get their hands on the money.
Physical elder abuse is more common in nursing homes. This type of elder abuse often goes unreported and is relatively easy for staff in the nursing home to cover up. Many nursing home lawyers, who represent elderly people and their families who are the victims of elder abuse, say it is easy for staff to pass off bruises as the result of a fall on the part of the elderly individual. Since it is likely the elderly relative has already had at least one or two verified falls, the claim is not investigated any further. Another common component of elder abuse is outright neglect, leaving the elderly individual soaking in soiled bed sheets or clothes for days at a time.
So what should you do if you feel someone you love may be suffering from elder abuse at the hands of nursing home staff?
- Check for Known Signs of Abuse – The known signs of abuse are weight loss that cannot be medically explained, depression, financial changes/money disappearing, poor hygiene and withdrawal. If any of these signs are present further investigation is required.
- Make Surprise Visits – Change your visiting patterns and make them as erratic as possible. This is likely to catch the staff off guard. If they are abusing your elderly loved one this will make it much more difficult to hide because they do not know when you just might walk in on your elderly loved one.
- Take them to a Doctor – Get a doctor’s opinion on their recent “fall” many doctors specializing in ageing will be able to tell if a bruise is from a real fall or a work of fiction.
- Monitor their Banking – Monitor their banking to look for missing money, or money being withdrawn. Make it your business to know their financial status and to question withdrawals.
- Hire a Lawyer – A nursing home lawyer can help you investigate possible elder abuse, and if abuse is found to be present take action to put a stop to it and gain compensation for the victim.