The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines elder abuse as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult,” where an “older adult” is a person age 60 or older.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse often goes unreported. Of the two million elderly residing in nursing home facilities, it’s estimated that only 20% of abuse cases are reported. Elderly persons may feel shameful, embarrassed, or even physically unable to report the abuse due to inflictions of pain or fear. Even worse, residents may lack the physical strength to defend themselves or the mental capacity to report the abuse. It takes informed friends and family members to not only know the , but also what to do after abuse is either suspected or detected.
After you’ve detected the abuse, follow these 3 steps to help save your loved one and begin building a nursing home abuse case with a trusted attorney.
1. Report the Abuse
Evidence for nursing home abuse is time-sensitive, so reporting it can be difficult. Lacerations heal, behavior fluctuates, and staff turnover rates in nursing home facilities are high. The sooner the intervention, the stronger the case, so be sure to regularly visit your loved ones to keep tabs on their health and state of mind.
You can contact any of the following resources in your search for competent and trustworthy advice when reporting the abuse. For starters:
- Visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website to locate local Indiana resources
- Call 1-800-992-6978 to report suspected elder abuse, exploitation, or neglect in Indiana
- Contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. Trained operators will direct you to the further resources
- Contact the elder’s primary care physician, social worker, or patient advocate
- Contact the Indiana Adult Protect Services hotline at 1-800-992-6978
- Contact the Indiana Long Term Care Ombudsmen’s office at 317-234-5544
- For especially severe and threatening cases of abuse, contact 911 immediately
2. Move Care Elsewhere
Begin the process of moving your loved one to another facility immediately. You might encounter heavy resistance, as they may have made friends and established a routine. Your loved one might fear that the next home will be worse. Keep in mind that their trust has been broken and that transitions are difficult, especially for the elderly. Patience is key.
Be sure to go above and beyond when researching the next facility. Research the staff-to-patient ratio and ensure that the home can accommodate any medical needs your loved one has. If possible, see if you can talk to other residents and their family members to gather information about personal experiences.
3. Contact Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
After you’ve done all the necessary reporting and secured a safe environment for your loved one, it’s important to seek legal counsel, even if the suspected abuse is minor. Abuse is abuse, no matter the severity.
Again, since proving nursing home abuse is time-sensitive, taking photographs, recording dates, and gathering the names of all caretakers responsible for your loved for their entire duration at the home is crucial to your claim. Be as specific as you can not only when you’re reporting the abuse to proper authorities, but when meeting with your elderly abuse attorney.
If it can be demonstrated that a nursing home or its caretakers have been abusing or neglecting your loved one, the facility may be liable for the damages. In a nursing home abuse lawsuit, your loved one may be awarded compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Disability and disfigurement
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Physical pain and suffering
Punitive damages are awarded only in rare and serious cases, but it’s worth a conversation when consulting with your attorney.
Be aware that nursing home abuse isn’t limited to caretakers; other residents and visitors can be abusive as well. It’s up to the facility to protect their patients from abuse regardless of who is responsible. This means that, instead of individual liability on behalf of the specific caretaker, the entire facility can be found liable for damages.
Friends and family members are going to be angry, overwhelmed, and burning with questions after they learn that someone they love has been mistreated. Wilson Kehoe Winingham is equipped with both legal and medical professionals who can objectively and adequately evaluate your case with the goal of helping you reach the compensation your loved one deserves.