Elder Abuse Reporting (How and Why)

Many families have to deal with the tough decision of putting parents and grandparents in nursing homes. They know that the homes can provide more complete care, but at the same time you are putting your loved one in the trust of complete strangers.

  Under most normal circumstances, nursing home treatment is adequate and the elderly individual finds some contentment. Unfortunately, there are times when our worst fears are realized and it becomes apparent that abuse is taking place.

Types of Elder Abuse

There are multiple kinds of elder abuse, each with their own way of harming the quality of life of the person involved. The most common types include physical, emotional, medical, and financial.   Physical abuse is the most obvious and pertains to hitting, throwing, harmful restraining, and other acts that cause bodily harm. Many times physical abuse takes place out of either frustration on the part of nurses or attendees or out of a desire to feel empowered over the patients.   Emotional abuse is more subtle and involves a large variety of effects. Emotional abuse can include verbal taunting, coersion, threats, scare tactics, etc. Emotional abuse is more difficult to detect because elderly individuals may be coersed into not saying anything about the abuse. It’s more likely that they will quietly internalize it, not wanting to be a further burden on the family.   Medical abuse involves either neglect of treatment or incompetent handling of the patient’s medical needs. This can include bad diagnosis of problems, inappropriate medications of dosages, and lack of attention during times of need.   Financial abuse is perhaps the most prevalent type and occurs when individuals try to either directly or indirectly siphon money away from the patient under care. Direct siphoning occurs when individuals try to either intimidate patient’s out of money, trick them through scams, or get them to sign over rights through ‘sweet heart’ scamming. Indirect can come from external sources such as family members jockeying to lay claim to the patient’s belongings and finances.

Reporting Abuse

There are two types of abuse reporting, non-mandated and mandated. Non-mandated comes from any individual who is not directly involved with the care of the elderly patient, but who suspects abuse may be occurring. Mandated comes from nurses, workers, or direct caretakers that wish to pursue a claim.   To file a complaint, the first option is to consult the governing bodies at the head of whatever nursing home or institution that is caring for the patient. This could be a way of trickling down responsibility to lower members of the staff who may be causing trouble.   Another method is to file directly to law enforcement officials. They can then proceed to investigate the matter or make other agencies aware that complaints have been filed.   The third option is to secure legal counsel who has experience in dealing with elder law. These lawyers will know how to confront both the individuals who are perpetrating the abuse and the agencies that may try to protect them. It is important to move as quickly as possible on a case of potential abuse.

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