Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect is a True National Epidemic
Nursing home abuse and neglect are major problems in the state of Georgia and throughout the country. It is difficult for researchers to get a gauge on the full scope of this safety issue. We do know that the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) has reported that 10 percent of all residents of assisted living centers tell authorities that they have been the victim of abuse or neglect.
Though, that data from the NCEA comes with a major caveat: the organization explicitly states that the actual percentage of victims is undoubtedly much larger. This is because elder abuse and neglect are substantially underreported. For reference, the Center for Aging Research and Clinic Care conducted a study on 2,100 nursing home patients, finding that nearly 1 in 4 was a victim of abuse or neglect.
The problem of nursing home abuse and neglect in Georgia cannot be taken lightly. There are serious risks. According to a survey conducted by The National Center on Elder Abuse, elders who experienced abuse had a 300% higher risk of death than those who had not. However, abuse is rarely reported to the police, often because residents fear retaliation. We all need to do more to protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable loved ones especially as nursing home neglect lawyers.
Elder abuse is a serious and widespread issue. Studies have estimated that this abuse costs victims billions of dollars each year, and that number is anticipated to continue to grow as technology advances. Many victims of elder abuse are residents of nursing homes. We trust nursing homes with the care and well-being of our aging relatives.
Unfortunately, sometimes that trust is misplaced. Nursing home residents are often vulnerable to deception, and some may not even be aware that they have been the victim of financial abuse. Consider these signs to prevent the financial abuse of elders in your life.
Sexual or Physical Abuse
Sexual or physical abuse is displayed with unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, or fractures, bleeding from the genital area, or bruising in that area. Torn or ripped undergarments could also be an indicator or sexual abuse.
Emotional abuse is recognized by changes in personality or behavior. Fearfulness or changes in usual activity or alertness is a good warning sign. Rocking or mumbling is another sign of emotional abuse. Being withdrawn from family or friends is an indicator that the caregiver may impose on the elder if emotional abuse is present.
Neglect is evident when there is a lack of hygiene and soiled or inappropriate clothing. The elder could be confined and left without supervision or care. There could be pressure ulcers or bedsores left untreated. If the home is in disrepair, cluttered, or dirty this is an obvious warning sign of neglect. If the elder is going without medical aids such as dentures, glasses, hearing aid, a walker, or medications, neglect may be present.
Financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of someone else’s funds, assets, or property. This, of course, includes the theft of money or possessions, but in cases of elder abuse, it can be much more subtle. This may involve cashing checks without their permission or even forging their signature. Financial abusers may pressure or trick elders into signing a document like a contract or will.
Improper use of power of attorney is another form of financial abuse; this document authorizes someone to act in the resident’s stead if they should be incapable. In the hands of an untrustworthy person, this power can be extremely damaging.
Financial exploitation also falls under the category of financial abuse; friends and relatives borrowing money with no intention of paying it back, doctors charging for unnecessary medications or treatments, and scammers encouraging donations to causes that do not exist can cause real financial and emotional damage to the victim.
Who commits financial elder abuse?
Anyone with access to a nursing home resident could potentially commit financial abuse. Oftentimes this abuse is carried out by service professionals, like facility caregivers, who have a significant amount of unsupervised time with the resident and a certain level of power over them.
However, while it can be tempting to imagine elder financial abuse being perpetrated only by unscrupulous employees, family members or close friends may also take advantage of an elder. This can often be seen when a friend or relative is granted power of attorney and uses their control of finances and assets inappropriately.
How do I prevent financial elder abuse?
The best thing a friend or relative can do in this situation is to stay alert and involved. Isolation makes it significantly easier for elders to be taken advantage of. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs described above, and do not hesitate to seek out help or further investigation if you suspect something may be awry.
It is also a good idea to involve more than one person in major financial decisions to ensure that no single person has complete control over the resident’s finances. You can also limit the potential opportunities for financial abuse to occur by automating bill payments when possible and direct depositing checks.
Most banks and financial institutions are also able to monitor accounts for suspicious behavior. When choosing a nursing facility or hiring a caretaker, make sure to check reviews and speak to references to ensure that your relative is in good hands. If you feel that your loved one is at particular risk for financial abuse, you may also consider hiring a geriatric care manager to oversee all aspects of care, including financial management.
Where Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
If you witness abuse or neglect in a nursing home that is an emergency situation, you should immediately call 911. If the abuse is not life-threatening contacting local law enforcement or the district attorney’s office is your first step to file an official report of the abuse. There are other resources to assist you in reporting cases of neglect or abuse.
Adult Protective Services is one of the first agencies that will respond and will investigate the reports of neglect or abuse. The National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence will have a list of elder abuse hotlines in every state. For more information about how to contact the Adult Protective Services in your state, you can contact the Eldercare Locator.
There is a United States Administration on Aging protective service in every state that may be a resource, as well. Even if you are reporting instances of neglect or abuse to Adult Protective Services or the local law enforcement agency, it is further recommended that you contact a nursing home neglect lawyer that is licensed and experienced in nursing home abuse or neglect.
Contact Our Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys in Conyers Today
At MG Law, we are prepared to do everything we can to get to the bottom of your nursing home neglect case, to get you and your family the compensation you need. While neglect might seem challenging for you to prove, we at MG Law are up to the challenge, not simply because we excel at our jobs, but because your loved ones’ safety is paramount to us. Please do not ignore the warning signs.
If you suspect that your vulnerable family member has been the victim of a nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect in Conyers, GA, please contact our top-rated nursing home abuse attorneys today at (770) 988-5252. We offer free, fully confidential legal consultations. With offices in Conyers, Covington, and Atlanta, we represent nursing home abuse victims throughout the region, including in Rockdale County, Newtown County, Clayton County, Henry County, Dekalb County, and Fulton County.