While there have been many huge strides to guarantee our beloved seniors a good standard of living, there are still some who see seniors as easy targets due to their physical and mental conditions. If you’ve just discovered that your loved one has been abused or maltreated, we understand that this is a difficult time for you. If you’re in need of guidance, these steps can help you navigate your way, emotionally and legally, through such a distressing time.
Look for the Signs
Before you take any further steps regarding the issue, you must understand the full extent of the abuse. In order to do so, you need to talk to your elderly parent and look for signs of abuse. According to the American Psychological Association and the National Center on Elder Abuse, there are seven types of elder abuse, five of which fall under the legal umbrella of maltreatment. These are neglect, physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse. As hard as it may be, you must look into all possibilities when talking to your elderly.
When addressing the issue, remember to tread softly as you are talking to a wounded person about a sensitive issue. Remind them that they are in a safe space, refrain from doubting or second-guessing them, and be sure to remain emotionally supportive throughout the conversation. If you’re suspicious of maltreatment, yet are unsure, you can look for some basic warning signs. Unexplained bruises and injuries, leftover pills due to unfollowed prescriptions, depression, and an increase in self-soothing behaviors like cradling one’s self or rocking can indicate that your loved ones aren’t being treated properly.
Once you have enough information to seek help, don’t hesitate to do so. If you’ve entrusted a senior care facility with your parent, yet you’ve noticed signs of neglect, like bedsores, malnutrition, and unsanitary or unsafe living conditions, you need to seek out legal help. According to the law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, you have grounds to sue the nursing home for malpractice. Then, you won’t just be getting monetary compensation for the damages which you can then use to provide adequate care for the elderly, but you’ll get to ensure that no one else gets affected by the abuse.
Keep in mind that abuse doesn’t need to happen out of malice. It could simply be that the nursing home prefers a large profit margin over hiring enough staff members. They could also be hiring untrained staff members, thus risking the life of your loved one. Regardless of the type of abuse, it’s important to reach out to an attorney rather than directly confront the facility which is guaranteed to deny and hide their transgressions to avoid lawsuits.
Remove Them from the Abusive Environment
Once you’ve hired an attorney and they’ve determined that you have a valid case, talk to them about removing your parent from the nursing home facility. There is no reason for them to endure any more abuse. However, you don’t want to risk doing anything that might jeopardize your case in court, like removing your senior family member without reporting the incident to law enforcement officials. In which case, you’ll need to file an extensive report in which you’ll need to mention details of the abuse and the name of the victim, as well as, answer any questions that might help the officials. Needless to say, you can choose to remain anonymous if you’re afraid there might be repercussions from the abuser. Nevertheless, if you are planning on removing your loved one from the environment, you won’t need to worry about that.
Knowing that your loved one has been abused before or is still being abused can be devastating. Even worse, when they are incapable of protecting themselves. It’s then when the responsibility falls to you to protect them. The steps above can help guide you if you’ve discovered that your elderly parent is suffering from maltreatment. When first finding out the details, document what you can and take as many pictures as you can of the injuries and the signs of maltreatment. If your loved ones are scared to open up, assure them that they will be removed from the environment and that legal action will be taken as soon as you part with them. Remember that the helplessness and anger you are feeling, as a victim of abuse, your maltreated senior is feeling it too on a deeper level, in addition to a great deal of shame and pain. Taking legal action is essential, but make sure you don’t overlook their emotions in the process.