The elderly remain one of the most valuable assets of this country. However, everyday throughout the United States and Georgia, the elderly are abused and neglected by the very caretakers that we trust to care for them. Our elder abuse lawyers can help if you believe that your loved one has been mistreated while in the care of a commercial facility or nursing home.
The decision to place a loved one into an assisted living facility or a nursing home is often an agonizing decision for family members and it can also be a traumatic event for your loved one you decided to place in the care of one of those facilities. Every year millions of Americans are faced with the decision whether or not to place their parents or grandparents in a medical facility where their needs can be properly met on a day-to-day basis.
The people who decide that an assisted living facility or a nursing home is the best option for their loved ones are trusting those who own and operate each facility with the safety of their loved ones. Far too often, we trust caregivers to give our loved ones the same love and care that we provide them with. Sadly, this rarely happens. There have been many examples of nursing home abuse that have caught the eye of the media and made headlines for a day or two, but the few stories that make the news are just the tip of the iceberg.
Nursing home abuse is becoming an epidemic across America. More than 3 million Americans currently reside in assisted living or nursing homes, and this number will continue to grow. Population projections show that the number of people over 65 will double today’s rate by the year 2030. In a study conducted by the National Center on Elderly Abuse, over half of the people living in these facilities reported being abused, neglected, or witnessed the abuse or neglect of a fellow patient. Currently, physical abuse is the most commonly reported type of elderly abuse. However, Americans in these facilities may also suffer from mental, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Do not stand by and allow your loved one to be taken advantage of by those you trusted most to take care of them. If you believe your loved one may be a victim of elderly abuse and you are looking for help in taking the next step to protect your loved one and retrieve damages they so rightly deserve, Sessions & Fleischman can help.
Do I need an elder abuse attorney?
A qualified elder abuse attorney may be necessary in order for you and your family to get the justice and compensation that is deserved after elder abuse has occurred. Law enforcement agencies play a critical role in punishing elder abusers. However, law enforcement agencies rarely have the time and resources required to work on elder abuse cases in order to quickly provide answers and help for families of elder abuse victims.
Types and Signs of Elder Abuse Cases
It is critical that families of elders are vigilant to observe potential types of elder abuse. Obviously, there are signs of physical abuse and personal injury such as bedsores that we should watch for, but victims of elder abuse may suffer abuse that may not be visible.
Physical Abuse of Elders
Issues of neglect don’t always indicate a deliberate attempt to cause harm, but physical abuse has this intention. Actions that cause intentional bodily harm to an elderly individual fall under this category of abuse. It can manifest in a number of ways, such as tying them down to their bed, locking them away in a room, or medicating them with drugs that weren’t prescribed.
But there are other signs to be aware of that indicate physical mistreatment, including:
- Unexplained bruises on their wrists or black eyes
- Cuts and lacerations
- Sprained joints or ligaments
- Broken bones and/or fractures
- Similar injuries that repeatedly occur
- Refusal by your loved one to have their injuries examined by a doctor
Emotional Abuse of Elders
Physical abuse of elders is common, but emotional abuse of elders is particularly common. When someone is emotionally abused, it can be challenging to determine what exactly is going on. Actions like verbal abuse, yelling, name-calling, and even ignoring an older adult constitute this type of mistreatment.
There are signs you can look out for in the relationships your loved one has when interacting with others:
- Frightened behaviors
- Withdrawal from social interactions
- Unexplained behavior changes that aren’t due to medical issues
- Depression and/or confusion
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Difficulty sleeping
Caregivers who fail to provide an elderly person’s needed care are committing neglect. This form of abuse occurs in a variety of situations. From not ensuring your loved one takes their medications to neglecting to perform basic care like bathing and dressing, this treatment can significantly affect the victim.
There are instances where caregivers aren’t aware that they are neglecting the patient they are charged with, often due to insufficient training. But, sadly, there are countless cases where home care aides and nursing home staff purposely ignore the needs of those they are hired to care for.
You may notice the following red flags if your family member is neglected:
- Unkempt appearance and/or hygiene issues
- Skin rashes and lesions
- Sudden loss of weight
- Important medical equipment like hearing aids or walkers are missing or broken
- Eyeglasses and dentures are in poor condition or missing
Sexual Abuse of Elders
When an older person is forced to perform sexual acts, this falls under elder sexual abuse. The activities that fall under this category range widely, but all involve a lack of consent. For example, forcing an elderly individual to watch pornography or touching them inappropriately all constitute this serious form of abuse. Further, it’s not always caregivers that perpetrate these crimes. Visitors to the care facility and even other patients can commit these crimes.
You may suspect your older loved one has been sexually abused by someone if:
- They have clothing that is torn or bloody, including pajamas and underwear
- Bruising appears on sensitive areas of the body, such as breasts or the genitalia
- They contract a sexually transmitted disease but are not sexually active
- Bleeding from genitalia or their bottom occurs
Financial Abuse and Exploitation of Elders
Financial exploitation of elders is extremely common. Elderly individuals who have their finances exploited are considered victims of abuse. This could include unauthorized use of their credit cards, coercing them to change their estate plan to favor another individual, or receiving care above and beyond what their needs require.
The following signs may indicate your elderly loved one is being abused financially:
- Unexplained or unauthorized bank account withdrawals
- New friendships where your family member is constantly providing financial assistance
- Discovering altered or missing legal documentation
- Financial statements have gone missing
- Bills are seriously past due and/or they are facing eviction
Be very careful about who your loved one issues a power of attorney to.
Report Georgia Elder Abuse
In situations where you believe your loved one is in imminent danger of further harm, call the police and file a report right away. This will begin the investigation process and create immediate relief for your family member and possibly other victims, too.
You should contact qualified elder abuse lawyers in Macon, GA right away about your case. At Sessions & Fleischman, we can assist you in filing complaints to state and local agencies that govern elder law and abuse issues, including:
- The Georgia Department of Community Health
- Georgia’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- Georgia’s Department of Human Services: Division of Aging Services
Interested Parties That Can Sue For Elder Abuse and Neglect
Elder abuse victims are usually unable to pursue a lawsuit against the nursing home or care provider that hurt them. This isn’t a surprise since perpetrators intentionally choose those who suffer from physical and/or mental challenges. While your loved one could seek justice on their own, their loved ones are generally the ones who step in on their behalf and bring a suit.
Our Elder Abuse Lawyers Can Protect Your Loved One
If you believe a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect while in an assisted living or nursing home, you may have a legal claim to damages. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation. A personal injury and wrongful death lawyer at Sessions & Fleischman can help you and your family get the compensation that you deserve following an incident of elder abuse.