As of March 2015, there were nearly 1.4 million nursing home residents spread out across 15,600 certified homes throughout the country. Most provide quality care for the residents and employ competent nurses, doctors and caretakers. However, there are some homes who make life worse for their residents, whether through unintentional incompetence, purposeful negligence, or outright abuse.
It’s not just the elderly in nursing homes that face the threat of neglect or abuse; there are nearly 2.1 million reported cases of elderly abuse each year. Given that those aged 60 and older comprise approximately 20 percent (63 million) of the U.S. population, elderly abuse happens far too often in this country. When we consider that most cases go unreported, and that the elderly population has increased dramatically in previous decades, the problem is likely greater than statistics suggest.
If you have an elderly family member residing in a Texas nursing home, the trust you place in those working in the home would is paramount. If that trust is broken, you’ll need the help of an experience Austin nursing home abuse lawyer at your side. The attorneys at the law offices of Briggle & Polan, PLLC are dependable and will fight on your behalf.
What Are the Common Types of Elderly Abuse?
The American Psychological Association (APA) has identified seven types of elderly abuse that occur the most often. The variance of abuse can often depend on whom the perpetrator is. Each of the different types of elder abuse are broken down below:
- Physical – Intentionally striking or enacting harm upon an elderly person.
- Sexual – Unwanted contact of a sexual nature is not common, but it does happen.
- Neglect – This is the most prevalent type of abuse; employees of nursing and assisted living homes have an obligation to residents. The refusal or failure to commit to that obligation is neglect.
- Emotional – Degrading and disrespectful treatment of an elderly person through verbal and nonverbal acts.
- Financial – This type of abuse robs senior citizens of an estimated $2.6 billion annually.
- Abandonment – The desertion of an elderly person by someone responsible for their well-being.
- Self-neglect – An elderly person may exhibit behaviors that threaten their own health.
What makes an elderly person susceptible to abuse? As most would guess, an elderly person may be prone to Alzheimer’s, confusion or general forgetfulness. The fragile state of their mind and physical strength is what most often makes them prone to abuse. If they have suffered some other form of abuse earlier in their life – such as domestic violence by a spouse – this makes them more susceptible as well.
How Can I Tell the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Sometimes evidence of abuse, even physical ones, will be covered up by the perpetrator, or the victim will be forced to lie. Knowing what to look for if you suspect abuse can help stop the problem before it persists.
- Bruises, cuts, scrapes and bandages whose presence may very well go unexplained are something to keep an eye on. It’s possible for an elderly person to bump into a table, bruise, and not remember it. But if they are constant or you see new ones every time, then abuse may be happening.
- Change in usual mood can be difficult to notice, because the change is typically gradual. Be on the lookout for depression, anger, sleep disruption or loss of appetite. Anything which strays from their normal behavior.
- Financial distress is challenging to catch before it’s too late, especially if your access to their statements is limited or nonexistent. This applies more closely to family members providing for themselves more so than ones in a home, but if you notice or hear signs of financial distress – unpaid bills, sudden trouble affording groceries or a lot of newly purchased items – it’s wise to ask if there’s trouble.
No one wants to feel like a snoop, and it may be easy to dismiss a person’s mood as something they may just be feeling that day, but if issues remain consistent, you have to do what’s necessary to protect your family member’s safety.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Elder Abuse?
This can be a tricky situation. In order to build a case, there of course needs to be evidence against the perpetrator. If it’s your family member, concrete evidence may be slim before you decide to act. There are times when you should follow a certain protocol, and there are times when you need to take immediate action.
If your elderly family member is residing in a home, and there are physical injuries or you suspect that they may be in danger, call the police immediately. Otherwise, you can call Adult Protective Services (APS) or use the Eldercare Locator to find all the numbers you may need.
Knowing what to say when you call these authorities and what to expect afterwards is important. Some of the questions you may have to answer include:
- Are there any known medical problems (that were present before the suspected abuse)?
- What is your family situation like? Does your elderly family member have a large support system?
- Have you personally seen or heard the actions of abuse, whatever they were?
This is in addition to the personal information you’ll have to provide including the name, address and contact information of yourself and the elderly.
After you speak with the authorities, a caseworker from Adult Protective Services will be assigned to conduct an investigation within 24-72 hours, depending on the severity of the allegations. APS will do whatever is necessary to protect the health and safety of the elder person by providing assistance based on medical necessity, psychological evaluation or relocation services.
Austin Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys – Free Consultations!
It’s likely that you will be filing a claim or potentially a lawsuit against the neglectful party. If this is the case, you’ll need strong representation by your side. Contact the Austin personal injury law offices of Briggle & Polan, PLLC; we are a team of diligent attorneys well versed in elderly abuse and neglect claims, and we will fight on your and your family member’s behalf for fair compensation. Your initial consultation is free. Call us today! 512-472-1926