When you place your aging parents in an elderly care facility, you expect them to be treated with dignity, respect and care, regardless of their health problems. Checking over the care facility before you move Mom and Pop in is always the best preventive measure, but abusive nurses may be hired after your parents have been residing in the facility for awhile. Here is how you can recognize elder abuse and how elder law attorneys can help.
Signs of Abuse, Either on/with Your Parents or with Other Residents
Abuse can be very obvious, like multiple bruises and/or cuts, or it can be subtle, like the terrified look your parents emit when a particular nurse enters the room. If your parents are still verbal, encourage them to talk about anything that is not right with their facility. If they are non-verbal due to dementia or a disability, watch for nonverbal cues and body language. Also document all signs of physical, emotional or psychological abuse, and neglect (which includes leaving your parents sit in their own excrement, bed sores, signs of starvation, etc.).
Sexual abuse of the elderly can also occur, although it is rarer than other forms of abuse. If sexual abuse of either of your parents is happening, he or she may be too terrified to go to the bathroom, may have additional incontinence episodes than is typical for him or her, may have frequent urinary tract infections or signs of STDs, and may withdraw from group activities involving their abuser. Document everything you see that you think may be a sign of abuse, when you first noticed each sign, and what you did to report the incidents to the nursing staff and facility. Medical records and care for physical and sexual issues are also necessary to prove a case of elder abuse, so make sure you have copies of all of these records too.
How Elder Law Attorneys Can Help
There are laws that specifically protect the elderly and disabled. If you think there are any violations of those laws in regards to your parents, you can file a lawsuit against the care facility. A state investigation of that facility is required when a lawsuit is filed, and a fact-finding and determination hearing may be necessary. Your lawyer will collect this information from the state investigators as well as the documentation you provide. He or she may also conduct an investigation into the backgrounds of the nurses and care providers that have direct contact with your parents in the facility. Finally, your attorney will probably advise you to remove your parents from the facility and find a safer place for them to reside until the case is resolved. Contact a lawyer, such as James M Snow, for more information.