After the appalling accusations levied at elder care facilities in Florida and California in the face of natural disasters, people are justifiably a little more worried about how their elder relatives are being cared for. What constitutes elder abuse? How do we know when it's happening? And how can we deal with elder or nursing home abuse when it happens?
Here are three legal tips when it comes to identifying and responding to elder abuse, from our archives:
Elder abuse generally and nursing home abuse specifically can take on several forms, from physical neglect and abandonment and sexual abuse to financial exploitation and emotional abuse. And, sadly, that abuse can come from relatives and strangers alike. Knowing the types of elder abuse can be the first step in identifying the signs of that abuse or neglect.
Yes, there are the obvious signs of physical abuse, trauma, or neglect, including bruising, weight loss, dehydration, and unclean clothing or living areas. But physical harm is not the only kind of elder abuse. You should also watch out for depression, withdrawal, or an unwillingness to talk, anxiety or fearfulness of caregivers, unusual or unexplained behavior, difficulty sleeping or eating, and any suspicious changes in legal and financial arrangements.
Finding out an elderly relative is being neglected or abused can may you feel helpless, but there are legal and professional resources available. If you feel that an elder is in immediate danger, contact the police or other law enforcement agency. If you want to report a nursing home or hospice facility for abuse or neglect, reach out to the state department of health and human services or the National Adult Protective Services Association.
And if you're considering a lawsuit against an abuser, nursing home, or elder facility, discuss your options with a local attorney.