Under the Department of Health and Human Services, there is a division known as The Administration on Aging. They have cleverly named a definition of elder abuse as “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.” As you may know, the elderly are vulnerably when they have become dependent on care from a nursing home, and certain conditions may unfortunately make them easy prey to staff. Elder abuse can occur in nursing home and other treatment settings and is a very serious problem.
So, how Widespread is the Problem of Elder Abuse? Studies have been done in the past by the United States Department of Justice. It has been found that approximately 11% of all elder people are abused every year. Statistics say that United States has 40 million people who are aged 65 and older living in it. This means that at least 4 million people are abused each year in the United States.
Every Situation is Different; However, There are Warning Signs of Elder Abuse. When it comes to physical abuse, unexplained injuries like bruises or broken bones may be signs. Fearful behavior, anxiety, severe changes in moods, fear of interacting with staff, refusal to see family members and close friends, and hesitation to talk openly could explain emotional abuse taking place. Sexual abuse could be happening if an elderly person develops sexually transmitted diseases, has genital pain, injury, or bleeding. An elderly person may be being neglected if they are malnourished, have a lack of basic necessities like food and water, have bedsores, or unpaid bills. Some other things to watch for include abandonment, financial exploitation, and self-neglect of adults.
How are the Authorities Able to Help if you Suspect Abuse? Every circumstance is certainly different. However, sometimes the victim may be in a place where they are in imminent physical danger, and if this is the case, the local police or paramedics may remove the victim from the scene and transport them to a safe location. Investigations can be conducted by the police from then on. After this occurs, the office of Adult Protective Services will be charged with an investigation and assessment of danger. Social services will also come to the scene and address concerns for the victim.
How can you Build Your Claim with Evidence? To gather evidence for a negligence claim, one must begin with identifying the nature and extent of the abuse happening. This requires, firstly, listening closely and carefully to a loved one and what they have to say. If you dismiss their reports, the abuse could go on. Always remain sensitive to the elder’s overall appearance and personality, because signs like changes in mood and sudden lack of hygiene could be suspect for abuse taking place. If your loved one has bedsores or infection, take photographs to track evidence. Lastly, remove your loved one from an abusive situation immediately. You have a legal duty to mitigate the damages to your loved one and you can’t let them suffer.
If you suspect that elder abuse is taking place, then you may have a claim. In any situation such as this, it is recommended that you speak to an attorney who is experienced in nursing home injuries and the likes. The attorney will be able to tell you where to turn next. You can protect your legal rights and an elder person’s wellbeing by calling WTW today to find out where you stand.