Having your elderly loved ones be cared for in a home that’s not only professional but compassionate towards those in their golden years, is the primary goal for choosing nursing establishments. But when news of neglect, negligence, and abuse against the elderly surface, you should know that you have the legal right to sue the perpetrators.
But what exactly are the steps to take in filing for such a lawsuit? Where can you find qualified nursing neglect attorneys who’ll take your case? Here are facts you are to be aware of regarding nursing neglect and what to do about this dangerous situation.
Defining Elder Abuse
The Department Of Health And Human Services has explained that elder abuse occurs when negligence, whether intentional or knowingly permitted, is committed against a vulnerable adult, by caregivers or other personnel who are responsible for administering care and/ or aid.
Maltreatment against those who are 60 years of age and above are categorized into 6 classes: neglect, physical, emotional, mental, financial, and/ or sexual abuse, and abandonment.
How To Spot Elder Abuse
Defining what this kind of abuse is, is very straightforward. Yet how can one tell that negligence and/ or abuse is occurring under the watch of carers when friends and family aren’t around? What are the signs of abuse? Although this is highly dependent and variable on a case to case basis, there are general signals you can watch out for.
Emotional Abuse – an unexplained change in behaviour. This is reflected in the way the patient has become unusually anxious to the point of fear, especially when their caregivers are around. Alternately, this may also be reflected in not wanting to talk to friends and family members, and generally becoming silent during any kind of conversation.
Sexual Abuse – pain on any part of the genital area, STDs (sexually transmitted disease)
Physical Abuse – bruises, burns, cuts, wounds, sprained body parts or bone breakage, etc. To follow this up, the constant need for medical assistance regarding such incidences should put you on alert.
Abandonment and Neglect – among the many shreds of evidence of these are poor health (specifically “malnutrition”; the patient may reveal this by showing a hunger upon the sight of food you’ll bring him or her, as though he or she hasn’t been fed for a while, or enough) and a sudden drop in weight, poor hygiene and unkempt living quarters, skin ulcers, etc.
Financial Abuse – imbalances in the patient’s remaining assets in parallel to the standard of living he or she is given in the nursing home (or their own home, if the caregiver is a stay-in or is on-call). Aside from this, asset depletion and expenditures that are unexplained may be proof of financial victimization. Other more blatant means are shown through missing items and/ or property and added caregiving services that were not discussed with you and are not evident in their application, etc.
Over and above these, self-neglect can also be directly related to any one of the above mentioned categories of elder abuse.
What Should I Do When I Suspect Elderly Abuse?
1. Report The Abuse
Immediacy is crucial during this initial stage of the report. Don’t wait for another incident of abuse to take place. Even if there’s little evidence of it, it’s safer to have it reported right away so that the living situation of the patient and the examination of the backgrounds of the carers may be performed promptly.
If on the off chance, there really was no abuse, then you can breathe easy. But at least you’ve done your part in making sure that this is so. In contrast, waiting too long before filing the report may allow the perpetrator to take the opportunity to cover up their tracks.
You should also think about the well-being of the patient, wherein the longer they are left in the hands of the abusers, the longer they’ll have to suffer.
2. Hire A Nursing Neglect Attorney
Filing a report of the incident/s is one thing. Getting a legal representative for you and for the patient is another. Among the challenges of dealing with cases regarding the elderly arise when the elderly themselves have ailments that affect their judgment and/ or their memory (i.e. dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.) Perpetrators can plead their case and say that the story is not corroborated, especially if there’s a lack of physical evidence.
With a qualified nursing neglect attorney with experience in such cases, you can further your claims and have them defend your elderly loved ones. Not only is bringing the criminals behind the abuse to justice the end-result of the lawsuit, but the victims should be compensated for the maltreatment and/ or suffering they’ve had to go through.
In addition to this, if your elderly family member or friend is in a well-established home for the aged, it’s very likely that said institution will have their own legal representatives to counter your lawsuit. For this reason, having a nursing neglect lawyer is the best course of action to take. Never try to solve this on your own.
You can gauge the level that expert lawyers have in this field by checking on their track record regarding cases of elderly negligence and maltreatment. In doing so, you’ll have confidence in them being able to win the case for the sake of the well-being of your elderly loved ones.
This third step has to do with transferring the patient to a different nursing home, and/ or to replace the perpetrator. Many seem to understand that they have to wait until the case has been cleared. But what you are to have in mind is the safety of the victim. Once you suspect abuse, along with reporting it and hiring a professional lawyer, transfer the patient elsewhere without delay.
There are recommendations regarding how to do this discreetly without giving the abuser a “head’s up” that they will be investigated, and thus, allowing them the leeway to cover up their tracks, or even run away.
Still, much like the two other steps, conduct this as urgently as you can. A number of friends and family of abused elderly tend to keep the latter in their own places of residence while they scout for other nursing homes or caregivers, and while the case hasn’t been settled as of yet.