Picture this: you just admitted your 76-year-old mother to a local nursing home. You did your research before choosing a facility that’s ranked as the best affordable nursing home in the region.
Three weeks into your mother’s stay, she begins to shut down when you come to visit her. She doesn’t have that lively spirit anymore; something has changed.
You ask if anything is bothering her, but she is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Because of her ailments, she has trouble remembering past events and it is difficult for her to communicate.
You ask the staff if anything happened to her while you weren’t around, but everyone you speak to says she’s doing just fine.
You’re still feeling uneasy, but you don’t know what to do or who to turn to. Other than your mother acting different, you have no reason or proof to believe the nursing home staff is not telling the truth.
Another few weeks go by and your mother’s condition worsens quite a bit. She seems even more depressed than before, and now, strange bruises and marks have appeared on her wrists and arms. At this point, you are surely convinced something is wrong.
You confront the nursing home staff again and ask if your mother has experienced a fall. They say she has not been hurt and they tell you not to worry because she is in good hands… but you know better.
You are very worried now, so you try asking your mom where the bruises and marks came from, but she can’t recall exactly what happened. Instead, she looks away from you with a sullen look on her face and peers toward the hallway of the nursing home facility where an attendant is writing something on a clipboard. Now you know the nursing home attendants can’t be trusted to effectively care for your mom and you need to take steps toward attaining better care for her.
Unfortunately, instances like these are common in America’s elderly care facilities. It is approximated that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced a form of elder abuse at some point. That’s nearly 5 million elderly people who are abused every year, and only 1 in 14 abuse cases are reported to authorities.
What can you do?
If your loved one has experienced abuse, you should report it immediately. In the state of California, you should contact Adult Protective Services (APS) to report elder abuse. In most cases, County APS programs are given 10 days to reply to submitted reports.
You should also report elder abuse to the State Department of Human Services, the office of the district attorney in the county where the abuse took place, or your local municipal police or sheriff’s department. In addition, the Eldercare Locator is a public service by the U.S. Administration on Aging designed to provide information regarding programs and services for the elderly.
A couple of things to keep in mind while reporting abuse:
Stronger together: Seek out other family members who may have the best chance of persuading the elder in question toward pursuing care elsewhere.
Don’t confront the assumed abuser: The elder could be put into jeopardy even further if you are unable to relocate them immediately after the confrontation.
A few tips for reporting abuse:
Arrange a pleasant space for useful discussion that is away from the suspected perpetrator of abuse.
Let the elder decide when the best time of day is to talk. Certain medications can encourage tiredness or disorientation.
Speak slowly utilizing short sentences and have open-ended inquiries.
Ask only one question at a time to avoid confusion.
Don’t talk back.
Chat at eye level.
Be patient and listen carefully.
Indicate communication hindrances, such as hearing aids that are powered off or incorrectly placed dentures.
Keep in mind that elders with memory issues can still tell you what happened, particularly if an emotional impression was made.
If you suspect your elder is being abused, do not wait to make a report and contact an attorney. The sooner the situation is handled, the sooner your elder can be provided with the appropriate care they deserve.
Call the experienced professionals at the Law Offices of Mark Redmond today at (916) 444-8240 to speak with an attorney about elder abuse.