Voice of the Vulnerable: Elder Neglect & Abuse Can Happen In Any Situation

The need for caregivers for older adults is ever-increasing, yet we see horror stories in the news about elder abuse and neglect. These stories make us and our aging loved ones more anxious about receiving assistance from anyone but themselves or trusted family. The truth is that any caregiver or facility can have victims of abuse and neglect, and we need people diligently checking in on those under the care of another.

Many news stories focus on nursing homes, but they are not the only offenders. According to an article on Madison.com, we are seeing a growth in assisted living facilities, which are less regulated than nursing homes and often don’t have staff members trained specifically for the needs of older adults. Even in-home caregivers can be negligent or abusive, and those with memory loss or who cannot communicate are most vulnerable.

You can be their voice.

There is a column at JSonline.com, Where You Can Lend a Hand, that often includes a request for volunteers to look after the concerns of older adults in nursing homes. Since many people in facilities don’t receive visitors, some kind hearts could make a world of difference to someone suffering under an abusive caregiver.

In fact, knowing the risks that can put someone in a nursing home as well as the signs of abuse and neglect would be beneficial for nearly any person who has a close relationship with an older adult.

Risks & Warning Signs that Extra Assistance is in Their Future

With age comes risks that lead to needing supervised care, whether it be friends and family checking in, in-home care, assisted living, or a nursing home. Here are some red flags, provided by AgingCare.com, that could show your loved one is on the path to needing assistance.

  • Missing appointments or bills
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Signs that they are not bathing or unable to use the bathroom properly
  • Difficulty getting around their house or doing once everyday tasks
  • Be aware of the warning signs of dementia, such as memory loss and cognitive impairment. Read more about dementia here.

Although it is helpful knowing and understanding the warning signs that our loved one needs assistance, it is crucial to their well-being that someone check in on them once they’ve been put under the care of another person or facility. It doesn’t matter what kind of assistance was hired, because abusers can turn up in any environment.

"You can go into some of the most beautiful facilities, and they can have some really lousy care," says Helen Marks Dicks, state issues advocacy director with AARP Wisconsin. "The opposite can also be true." (Madison.com)

Watch for the following signs that suggest elder abuse or neglect.

  • Bedsores and pressure ulcers
  • Dehydration
  • Infections, including necrotizing fasciitis and MRSA
  • Malnutrition
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Rapid change in weight
  • Unexplained bruises or lacerations
  • Dramatic changes in mood or energy levels
  • Unpaid bills and other unusual financial circumstances

No matter how you are related to the senior, or even the caregiver – volunteer, friend, or family member – if something concerns you about the older adult’s treatment or condition, report it to the authorities. One hotline you can use is 1-800-677-1116, provided by Eldercare.gov, U.S. Administration on Aging. You should also call a lawyer who will fight for the rights of abuse victims.

Our attorneys care about vulnerable seniors. We thoroughly investigate the resident’s circumstances, including medical records, medication records, care schedule and caregiver response times. We consult with qualified experts in geriatric medicine and nursing facility management. If abuse or neglect is confirmed, the facility is usually held liable for the actions of its employees. You can read more about fighting against elder abuse and neglect here, or call 414-273-7777 for a free consultation with our experienced lawyers at Sperling Law Offices LLC in Milwaukee.

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