There has been widespread concern about the quality of health care in America, including that of elders living in nursing homes and senior care facilities. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), as many as one in three nursing homes were cited for violations between 1999 and 2001. These facilities did not meet the federal standards for safety, or caused actual harm and injury to residents. When a family chooses to put an aging loved one in a senior care facility, they expect a certain level of quality and a guarantee that the person will be treated well. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and it may be necessary to seek help from a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Recognizing Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can come in many forms: physical, mental, and financial. When a facility is short-staffed, the nurses and caregivers can be motivated to move more quickly or pay less attention to detail. An elder may be bruised, scratched, or otherwise hurt due to rough handling. He or she may also be neglected by not getting the amount of attention that is necessary for their health conditions. Most abuse is unintentional, but that does not mean there is no cause for concern.
Mental abuse can be more difficult to ascertain. The elder may become depressed, sleeping more and eating less. Because these symptoms are not uncommon with aging and declining activity levels, it is easy to overlook as a natural progression. However, if there is a sudden change in behavior, this is worth investigating.
Preventing Elder Abuse
In addition to being aware of warning signs for abuse, there are steps one can take to prevent abuse in the first place. It is important to call and visit a loved one regularly to see how he or she is doing. If possible, it can be helpful to have others visit the elder as well. This could include friends, medical professionals, and church members. Be aware of the goings-on in the senior care facility. This will be an early alert to any suspicious behavior, as well as call attention to other potential abuse cases.
Choosing an Elder Abuse Lawyer
When elder abuse is suspected, it is important to remove the person from that situation as soon as possible. Contact an elder abuse lawyer to talk about your loved one’s rights and your options. If a senior care facility is not doing its duty, your loved one has the right to move to where he or she can receive appropriate care. Sometimes, the worst happens and an elder passes away due to inappropriate care. In this circumstance, the family may be entitled to reparations. An elder abuse lawyer can help guide you through this difficult time.