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New Albany Elder Abuse Attorneys
Elder abuse occurs when the action or inaction of a caregiver causes harm or distress to the older adult. Elderly residents living in a nursing home or assisted living facility have the expectation that they will not be harmed by their caregivers and will be properly looked after. Family members who realize their loved one has been abused often feel guilt, even though the abuse was in no way their fault. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are sometimes the only choices family members have, particularly if health conditions demand professional caregiving. Still, when we leave an older family member in the care of others, we trust they will be treated with dignity and respect. When the opposite occurs, it’s only natural to want the wrongdoers to be held to account and punished.
There are dozens of nursing homes and assisted living facilities with competent and caring staff members in the metro area. However, when the unthinkable happens, you need the help of elder abuse attorneys in New Albany. At Morgan and Morgan, our compassionate nursing home abuse lawyers can help you get the compensation you need to ensure your loved one has the medical treatment they need to recover from their ordeal. A successful elder abuse lawsuit can also make it far easier to move your relative to a better facility.
Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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What Is Elder Abuse?
Every year in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of older people are neglected, abused, and exploited. This segment of society is often frail and vulnerable, with no means of protecting themselves, and may depend on others to help with basic needs. Both men and women can be abused or neglected, although women, in general, are more at risk. Although there are laws that are meant to prevent elder abuse and neglect, some of the self-reported statistics on abuse in facilities for elder care are shocking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in six people aged 60 years or older has experienced some sort of abuse in community settings this past year. The form of abuse that is most prevalently reported by older adults, their proxies, and staff is psychological abuse. Still, elder individuals are more likely to report financial abuse rather than profess emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
While any abuse of the elderly is unacceptable, cases of elder abuse are expected to increase dramatically as the population ages. The WHO anticipates there will be 2 billion people aged 60 years or more by 2050.
What Are the Signs of Psychological Elder Abuse?
Psychological abuse, (also called emotional abuse) occurs when an elder is harmed through actions like yelling, threatening, and belittling. While the consequences may not be visible, victims may experience feelings of depression, fear, anxiety, and PTSD. Here are the signs of psychological abuse to watch for:
- Showing fear when certain caregivers are around
- Depression and withdrawal
- Changes in sleeping and eating behaviors
- Showing signs of changes in self-esteem
- Avoiding eye contact
Emotional abuse is something that should never be tolerated. For some abusers, this form of misconduct is a stepping stone to physical abuse.
What Are the Signs of Physical Elder Abuse?
Physical elder abuse can be described as any intentional use of force against an aged person. Physical abuse can take many forms such as hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, slapping, biting, and physically or chemically restraining an older person. Here are signs of physical abuse to be aware of:
- Any unexplained injury such as welts, bruises, cuts, burns, or abrasions. Any signs of symmetrical bruising on both sides of the body should be questioned because this suggests the use of two hands.
- Broken bones, dislocations, or sprains.
- Broken personal items such as glasses, hearing aids, dentures, or a watch
- Signs of restraining use such as marks around the wrists or ankles
Some signs are not physically apparent, but odd actions by caregivers or unexplained incidents that make you feel uneasy can include:
- A suspicious pattern of injuries that happen more than once
- An unexplained delay in medical treatment for an injury
- Questionable explanations of how an injury came about
- Emergency room visits to different hospitals (to avoid a trail of documentation)
Caregivers should be able to give you plausible explanations for any injury you notice. Failure to do so may indicate your loved one is suffering from physical abuse.
What Are the Signs of Sexual Elder Abuse?
It’s hard for some to fathom, but sexual abuse of the elderly is more common than people would like to acknowledge. Sexual abuse involves a caregiver (or in some instances, another resident) forcing older adults to be part of or witness unwanted sexual acts. This can include things such as forcing an older adult to watch pornography, witnessing masturbation, forced nudity, taking pictures while undressed, and any unwanted touching of a sexual nature. People most at risk for sexual abuse are often living with some form of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or cognitive issues that make it less likely the abuse will be reported. Warning signs include the following:
- Bleeding in the genital or rectal area
- Bruising or injuries in the genital area, pelvic region, or inner thighs
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Pain in the genital or rectal area
- New problems with walking or sitting
One of the most important things families can do is listen to their loved one if they claim they have been subjected to sexual abuse and report it to authorities. Other warning signs from older adults that have cognitive issues include agitation, fear around certain people and places, and nightmares.
What Are the Signs of Financial Exploitation in the Elderly?
Financial exploitation of the elderly occurs when someone steals their money or valuables. Caregivers are supposed to have their residents' best interest in mind, however, signs that financial abuse may be occurring include red flags such as:
- New names on financial accounts
- Unexplained withdrawals and transfers
- Missing valuables
- New changes to power of attorney or will
- Bank statements that go to unknown individuals
- Forged checks or other legal documents
Financial exploitation of the elderly can have devastating consequences. However, you have options to seek compensation from the wrongdoer and perhaps even receive some financial aid if the theft impacts your loved one’s ability to pay their bills. Our elder abuse attorneys in New Albany can help to hold thieves accountable.
What Are the Signs of Neglect in Nursing Homes or Assisted Living Facilities?
Neglect of elderly residents occurs when caregivers provide poor care or fail in their duties to ensure residents do not come to harm or suffering. Neglect comes in a wide variety of forms, but may include:
- Isolating residents with mobility issues by leaving them alone and unattended
- Not notifying medical professionals when an issue arises
- Failing to maintain hygiene such as not changing dirty linen and clothing and failing to help the resident wash
- Allowing residents to become dehydrated or malnourished
- Failure to treat conditions such as infections or bedsores
The warning signs of neglect to watch out for are:
- Increasing lack of mobility caused by leaving residents in wheelchairs or in bed for an excessive amount of time
- Unwashed hair, teeth, clothing, and bedding
- Dirty and unsanitary living areas
- Changes in mood and behavior
- Hair loss, papery skin, feeling cold all the time (signs of malnutrition or dehydration)
- What are the causes of elder abuse?
What Are the Causes of Elder Abuse?
You can’t narrow down elder abuse to one cause because there could be multiple underlying factors. Many times, the root lies with management or the owners of the facility who put profit over safety and don’t hire sufficient staff, or take shortcuts when it comes to training. Even so, elder abuse is never excusable. Here are some contributing factors which may lead to the abuse of elderly residents:
- Lack of training
- Insufficient pay
- Staff burnout
All of these issues can lead to unfortunate cases of elder abuse in facilities that are meant to care for them. Inadequate pay, understaffing, and staff burnout can cause caregivers to make mistakes in medication, and cause tension that leads to abuse. Even a compassionate caregiver can snap if they’re consistently pushed to do more than physically possible during a shift. That’s not to say caregivers are off the hook. Every person is responsible for their own actions. Management that forgoes background checks or turns a blind eye to red flags is culpable for the misdeeds of their employees and should be held accountable for negligence if a resident is hurt or mistreated.
How to File a Report for Elder Abuse or Neglect in Indiana?
Indiana is a mandatory report state, which means it's a legal requirement for anyone that suspects neglect or abuse of an elderly person to report it to Adult Protective Services (APS) or law enforcement.
To make a report online, visit: apscms.fssa.in.gov/APSOnlineReporting
State hotline: 800-992-6978
Reporting is confidential, and once the report is submitted, a local director of an APS unit will determine the appropriate next steps. You may be contacted for follow-up information, but they will not share their findings or the case status with you.
How to Contact a Long-Term Care Ombudsman?
While a serious allegation of caregiving misconduct should be reported directly to the authorities, Indiana long-term care ombudsmen are also fierce advocates for older adults in nursing homes and licensed assisted living facilities in the state. A long-term care ombudsman can help with issues about the quality of care being received, and any violation of rights.
When older adults in Indiana enter any long-term facility, they retain all the rights of any private citizen plus, as residents of the facility, they gain some more under federal and state laws. These rights include:
- Right to control their finances
- Right to freedom from abuse, neglect, and exploitation
- Right to freedom from restraints, both chemical and physical
- Right to communicate freely with whom they choose
Visit this link for a detailed list of rights granted under federal and state law.
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While nothing can erase the fact that your loved one was abused or neglected by those that should have protected them, filing a lawsuit against the abusers sends a strong message. Compensation for elder abuse victims is meant to help in the healing and recovery process. This compensation can pay for medical treatment and counseling and can reimburse losses from any theft. Additionally, you can win compensation for pain and suffering and any future expenses related to the abuse.
Our elder abuse attorneys in New Albany will work with you and your family to ensure you have a successful case. Nobody should get away with causing harm to some of society’s most vulnerable. We hold abusers to account, and work with families so they gain the financial means to move forward.
Contact us today for a free and confidential case review. You won’t be out a dime unless we can make a difference.