Elder abuse is a tragedy that happens in private residences and nursing home facilities across the United States each day. Unfortunately, most instances of elder abuse go unreported. While some elderly victims are unable to communicate with people who can help them when they have been abused, many victims do not report abuse because they are fearful of repercussions from their abusers. Anyone who witnesses abuse against elders has the responsibility to report incidents to the authorities. Victims of elder abuse and their families can get help with their elder abuse case by contacting an attorney.
People who come in contact with elderly members of the community are responsible for protecting these valuable members of society from abuse. While there are laws in place that are intended to help elderly victims of abuse, the high rate of unreported elder abuse makes it necessary for everyone in the community to keep an eye out for the signs of abuse.
Reporting Elder Abuse
State laws require healthcare professionals to report elder abuse as soon as signs of abuse are detected. Nurses, doctors and caretakers must contact the authorities to report abuse. Many states also require any person who suspects that an elderly person is being abused to report their suspicions to the authorities.
Any suspicion of abuse or neglect that is severe enough to threaten the life of the victim must be reported immediately. People who suspect this type of abuse should call 9-1-1 to help the victim get the assistance that they need to get out of the abusive situation.
Many people do not know if they should report elder abuse because of a lack of knowledge about the signs of abuse. Common signs of elder abuse include:
• Changes in appetite
• Unexplained bruises or welts
• Poor hygiene
• Sudden changes in behavior
Abuse could also lead to financial exploitation of an elderly person. Family members or friends who notice large bank withdrawals, missing personal belongings or unexpected packages may want to question a caretaker for more information.
It is not necessary for people to be able to prove that a victim is being abused. Any suspicions that are reported will be investigated by authorities. People who report elder abuse will be asked a series of questions about their suspicions. Examples of common questions that are asked when elder abuse is reported include:
• Have you witnessed any physical or emotional abuse against the victim? Emotional abuse can include yelling, belittling and neglect.
• Does the victim suffer from any long-term medical problems that require him to use medication or seek other forms of treatment on a regular basis?
• Are there family members or close friends providing emotional support to the victim?
People who report abuse do not have to know all of the answers to the questions that are asked of them. The professionals will collect as much information as possible in order to begin an investigation into the situation.
Anonymity is important to many people who report elder abuse. Reporters of elder abuse do not have to disclose their identity.
Victims of Elder Abuse
Victims often struggle with reporting elder abuse. It is important for victims to realize that they are not alone. There are many trustworthy advocates out there to help a victim recover after suffering at the hands of an abuser.
Each state runs an Adult Protective Services (APS) program and provides a Long-term Care Ombudsman for victims of elder abuse. The local police station can provide elderly victims with more information. People who can help victims of elder abuse can also be found by contacting the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. Representatives are trained to assist victims with compassion and understanding.
Getting Help With Elder Abuse
Dealing with the aftermath of elder abuse, or knowing how to report elder abuse in the first place is difficult for both victims and their families. While reporting elder abuse to the authorities is an important first step in recovering from a traumatic event, legal representation is often necessary for victims to recover financial compensation for their medical bills and financial losses. Contact us for help from an experienced law team with a background in representing elder abuse cases. A representative can assist you with scheduling an appointment to get started.