Elder abuse is rampant in nursing homes in America, and it can present in different forms, including financial abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. The latter is the most common type of abuse in nursing institutions, with 29% of seniors experiencing it over 12 months. Unfortunately, estimates state that authorities receive reports in only 1 in 14 cases. Furthermore, most victims choose to stay silent instead of seeking justice since the very idea of going head-to-head in court with a big institution can seem daunting for older adults.
If you have a senior parent or relative living in a nursing home, it is imperative to always be on the lookout for signs of mistreatment or neglect. Abuse can lead to illness and mental disorders, and in some cases, it may even result in the untimely death of an older adult. If you suspect abuse of your loved one in the nursing home facility, here is what you need to do to help them seek justice and compensation.
Be on the Lookout for Hidden Signs of Abuse
When looking for evidence of nursing home abuse, you need to carefully observe your senior parent or relative since some abuse signs are not visible to the naked eye. Unexplained bruises, welts, scratches, or cuts can be typical signs of physical abuse. However, you must also observe if they have difficulty moving or suddenly develop a limp. Having trouble walking or sitting may be due to having broken bones after a terrible beating, and it may also be an indicator of sexual abuse.
If your parent or relative looks unkempt or dirty or looks as if it is ages since they last showered or bathed, that could be a sign of neglect, which is another form of elder abuse. You should also be on the lookout for any change in behavior since it could be a clear sign that your loved one needs help. For instance, if they are usually sociable but become isolated from friends and family, or if they are generally cheerful but have become frightened, clingy, or withdrawn, then it is safe to assume something is wrong.
Take Photos to Document the Abuse
To build a case against the nursing home staff and institution, you need to start documenting the abuse as soon as possible. Take photos of marks, wounds, and visible injuries, and write down the dates when you took the pictures. You may also take videos with your cell phone to prove that your loved one has difficulty moving or sitting. Make a backup of your photos and videos so you will still have a record of the abuse in case they get accidentally deleted from your device, and make sure to keep your records in a safe place.
Report to the Proper Authorities
At this point, you need to get the proper authorities involved to protect your loved one. Call the state authorities for elder abuse, and inform your parent’s or relative’s primary care physician about the matter. The doctor may recommend a thorough screening and checkup to know the severity of your loved one’s injuries and prescribe the proper treatment or therapy to help them heal. Make sure to have copies of your loved one’s medical records since they are usable as evidence of nursing home abuse in court.
Consult an Elder Abuse Lawyer
When dealing with nursing home abuse, it is crucial to have someone by your side who understands the law and can help you gather solid and irrefutable evidence of abuse. You need to retain a lawyer who specializes in cases like this and has proven experience defending elder abuse victims. Choose a lawyer who lives within your area so you can communicate constantly and make the whole process much less complicated for both of you.
Since laws and regulations regarding elder abuse vary across states, hiring a local lawyer can be beneficial in the long run since they can use the best legal strategies for your loved one’s case. So, for instance, if you live in Pennsylvania, consider hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer in Bethlehem. They can immediately start the investigation process, significantly contributing to a favorable outcome.
Move Your Loved One to a Safe Place
Some people may think that the physical or emotional abuse will stop once the nursing home has been reported to the authorities and filed a lawsuit against them. However, there is the possibility that the staff may retaliate against your senior loved one and do worse things than what they have been doing before. Transferring your parents or relatives to your home or another trusted family member’s house would be better so they can feel safe and secure.
It can be heartbreaking to learn that someone you love suffers from physical or emotional abuse by the people who are supposed to be responsible for their well-being. If you suspect abuse of your loved one in a nursing home, take immediate action and seek guidance from an experienced attorney to get justice for elder abuse.
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