Many of us dread the day when our parents or grandparents need to go into a nursing home, or rely on a home help to care for them. It can be difficult to imagine them helpless and vulnerable, and even though most carers and nursing homes do a great job of helping seniors retain their quality of life as much as possible, and keeping them comfortable, you do of course hear the odd story about people who are actually abused in various ways by the people who are supposed to be caring for them.
These cases are extremely rare, just as cases of child abuse in schools are, however just as you have to be vigilant when it comes to your child, you also need to make sure you keep an eye on any elderly relatives with carers or in nursing homes, and take any signs that they might be being neglected or mistreated seriously.
What Kind of Thing Constitutes Elder Abuse?
There are laws in all 50 states against abusing vulnerable adults when they are in your care, and law firms like burkeharvey.com specialize in bringing these kinds of cases to court and making sure that, if guilty, the perpetrators see justice and the victims’ or their families get some kind of compensation. But what constitutes abuse?
Abuse of an elderly person can include neglecting them, physically or psychologically hurting or tormenting them, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation – for example stealing things from an elderly person or generally ‘ripping them off’. Some of these are easier to spot than others, as in the case of financial exploitation the elder in question may not actually know anything is wrong, or may be being conned very well and actually be happy to be giving money to the perpetrator.
Keep an Eye on Everything, and Take Everything Seriously
As people age, particularly when conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s are involved, they can become easily confused, forgetful, or get strange ideas in their heads. This can make it easy to see them being distressed or believing someone is against them as part of their condition. However, never ignore their claims, no matter how ‘out of it’ their mental state is. Of course, don’t immediately accuse their nurse of stealing from them or hitting them if they say this is happening and they have dementia, but investigate a little before you write it off or report it. Are there any signs of injury? Is anything missing?
When They Have Their Faculties
Not all elderly people have dementia, and some may well have all their faculties. They may not, however, tell you that something is wrong with their treatment. If you are dealing with someone like this, take clues from their own demeanor and attitude. Do they seem unusually withdrawn or nervous? Are they talking about money more than usual?
If you spot any signs of elder abuse the first thing to do is arrange for alternative care and get the person out of that situation – even if only temporarily while you investigate further with management at the nursing home, or police.