If your elderly parent is unable to care for his or her basic needs, he or she may be receiving round-the-clock nursing care. While these services can provide tremendous benefits for those unable to safely perform self-care (as well as providing much-needed respite for caretaking family members), serving such a vulnerable population can sometimes attract workers who may see elderly patients as easy targets for fraud or abuse. Read on to learn more about nursing home and caretaker abuse, as well as what you can do to help your parent if you believe he or she is being abused.
What types of nursing home abuse are most common?
While you may associate elder abuse with physical abuse or severe neglect, this type of abuse can also encompass the emotional, financial, and legal arenas. In fact, financial exploitation of the elderly is the most common type of elder abuse. Physical and emotional abuse (as well as neglect) rank lower on the list.
Sadly, the vast majority of elderly abuse and exploitation victims have been victimized by members of their own family. Others may have suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of a full-time caregiver, either in their own home or in a nursing facility.
What steps should you take if you suspect abuse?
While it's important to take quick, decisive action if you believe your parent is in imminent danger, going off half-cocked in this type of situation can sometimes cause more problems than it solves. This is especially true if you suspect (but can't yet prove) your parent is being defrauded financially. Unless your parent has the means and ability to transfer to another nursing facility or secure home health care from a different agency, bringing these suspicions to light before undertaking a full investigation could not only prevent your parent from being legally vindicated, but could potentially set him or her up for further retaliatory abuse.
If you suspect your parent has been physically, emotionally, or financially abused, you should consult an experienced elder law attorney who can help you evaluate what you've seen and advise you on possible actions you and your parent can take. This attorney can help you gather evidence to prove this abuse (like bank statements, security camera footage, or witness testimony) and will help you file a civil lawsuit against the care provider on your parent's behalf.
Often, a civil lawsuit against the care provider or facility may exist contemporaneously with criminal charges filed by the district attorney; and if the criminal matter resolves itself with a guilty plea or verdict, this can strengthen the civil case considerably. Contact a firm like Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC for more information.