nursing home abuse attorneyOne out of every ten people in the United States who are age 60 or older are abused every year, according to the National Council on Aging. Many more cases of abuse may go unreported. Despite these frightening statistics, many older individuals need care that their families just can’t—and shouldn't—provide. They have a right to receive that care with respect and without fear of abuse. Unfortunately, individual experiences and national statistics tell us that abuse happens all too frequently and results in devastating injuries.

Accordingly, elder abuse is an issue that all families must be aware of in order to protect loved ones. Here, we provide you with important information about where elder abuse happens, how it happens, who the abusers may be, and what you can do if it is your loved one who has been injured or killed.

Elder Care Options

Each individual, together with her family, must decide where to live and how to receive the necessary care. Some options include:

  • At Home with Home Health Care. Sometimes an older person can remain at home, and people may come in to assist with medical needs, hygiene, or help around the house.
  • Assisted Living Facilities. Residents of assisted living facilities may need help with some of their everyday activities, such as cooking and cleaning, but they do not need medical care. Residents of assisted living facilities may need help with some of their everyday activities, such as cooking and cleaning, but they do not need medical care.
  • Board and Care Homes. A board and care home is a type of assisted living facility. It provides care for elderly people in a home-like environment. Meals and cleaning services are typically provided. Residents may also have assistance with bathing, toileting, and other daily activities. However, residents do not receive medical care as they would in a skilled nursing home.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities. These facilities are commonly referred to as nursing homes. Residents are provided with skilled caregivers who work under the supervision of medical professionals. This is what separates skilled nursing homes from assisted living facilities.
  • Long-term Acute Care Hospitals. Some people have medical needs that are too complex even for a skilled nursing home. These people may reside in long-term care hospitals. Long-term care hospitals generally provide the same level of care as typical hospitals, but patients tend to stay for much longer periods of time.
  • Hospice Care. Hospice provides end-of-life care either in a hospice facility or at home. Hospice providers are supposed to focus on providing comfort and dignity to people toward the end of their lives.

All of these options may be safe and allow older individuals to live in peace and dignity based on their unique needs—unless the unthinkable happens, and a person who is supposed to take care of a resident is abusive or neglectful.

What Kind of Abuse Can Happen in These Places?

All kinds of abuse can be painful and result in injuries, but not all types of abuse are the same. Elder abuse includes:

  • Physical abuse. This includes purposefully inflicting pain or intentionally depriving a person of food, water, medication, or something else that is necessary to their health and safety.
  • Sexual abuse. It can be difficult to think about sexual abuse of elderly people who may be unable to consent to sexual contact or be unable to prevent it. However, it does happen and it can be catastrophic.
  • Emotional abuse. Threats, intimidation, and harassment may all be forms of abuse that significantly impact the person at whom they are directed.
  • Financial abuse. Some caregivers steal or misuse the resources of the older person for their own personal gain.
  • Restraints or isolation. Absent a well-documented medical reason, restraints, and isolation should not be used.

In addition to these forms of intentional abuse, an older person can be just as badly injured if a caregiver or facility is negligent.

Who Does the Abusing—and Why?

Either an individual or a facility may be responsible for elder abuse. Abuse can occur when:

  • An individual who is supposed to care for your loved one acts with the intent to hurt or injure her.
  • The facility fails to train staff appropriately or fails to hire sufficient staff members for the number of residents. Staff members may become stressed and unable to do their jobs safely.
  • An individual or facility is otherwise negligent.

In the end, any cause of abuse is just an excuse. Abuse should never occur and when it does your loved one may be able to make a legal recovery.

Your Loved One May Be Entitled to Damages

The damages that may be allowed in an elder abuse case include, but are not limited to:

  • Your loved one’s past, current, and future medical expenses that were made necessary by the injuries sustained in the abuse.
  • Your loved one’s out-of-pocket expenses. This may include funeral, burial, and memorial service expenses if your loved one died.
  • Your loved one’s emotional pain and physical suffering.

It may also include the loss of love, affection, and guidance that family members experience if your loved one died because of elder abuse. Other damages may also be permitted by law.

How to Protect Your Loved One After Abuse Occurs

If you recognize any signs of abuse, then you should take prompt action to protect your loved one. Some potential signs of abuse include:

  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Broken bones
  • Bedsores
  • Withdrawal
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you suspect that abuse is occurring, then it is important to report the abuse to the appropriate authorities and to take the right actions to protect your loved one’s legal rights. Our experienced attorneys can help you do just that.

Our legal team wants to get to know your loved one well because it is our goal to represent her interests. We want to know what she was like before the abuse occurred, how the abuse has impacted her, and how we can help her now.

We know how traumatic abuse is and we will do everything that we can to make her comfortable with us. We will earn her trust with our personal approach, and we will fight hard to get her the fair settlement that she deserves. If the insurance company is unwilling to settle, then we will not hesitate to go to court to protect your loved one’s rights and financial compensation.

Do not settle for just any attorney after your loved one has been abused. Instead, work with a lawyer who believes that elder abuse is always unacceptable.

Elder abuse should never happen, but when it does, our legal team will fight back hard to hold the individual or facility accountable for their actions and to protect the person who has been hurt. Call us today to find out more about our approach and about how we help elder abuse victims make fair recoveries. We would be pleased to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with your loved one, or her survivors.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law