With the aging of the baby boom population, more and more people are entering nursing homes or having live-in help. Other seniors are living with children or close family friends. Because of their advanced age, these people are at a higher risk of being mistreated. If you suspect an elderly person is being abused or neglected, report your suspicions to the appropriate authorities.
Spot the Warning Signs
Abuse and neglect take many forms. For example, physical abuse might receive the most press, but other seniors are emotionally or sexually abused. Neglect is also very serious and can lead to injuries.
Warning signs of physical abuse include:
- Unexplained bruises, welts, or other injuries
- Marks or lacerations on the body
- A caregiver refusing to let you see the elderly person
Warning signs of emotional abuse include:
- Fear of the caregiver
- Silence or withdrawn behavior when the elder formerly had an outgoing personality
- Behavior that mimics dementia, such as sucking a thumb or mumbling to themselves
Warning signs of sexual abuse include:
- Sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Bruising in the genital area
Warning Signs of neglect include:
- Unsanitary living conditions, such as dirty rooms, soiled bedding, dirt, bugs, etc.
- Not being bathed
- Bed sores
- Unexplained weight loss
After noticing signs of abuse or neglect, you should speak to the caretaker, whether this is staff in a nursing home or your sibling who is watching mom. Write down the reasons given for why your loved one is injured. For example, staff might claim that the resident fell down when she went wandering, or they might claim that a flu bug has raced through the nursing home.
You might not find the reasons given believable, so you should follow up. Talk to an administrator in a nursing home, who can investigate. If a parent is living with a sibling, speak to other family members. They might have seen similar warning signs, or they might be able to confirm that your loved one is being mistreated.
You should also make it habit to show up occasionally at odd times. If you always visit on Saturday morning, show up on Wednesday afternoon. You might find that the nursing home is very different when they do not expect visitors.
Report the Suspected Elder Abuse
If you suspect abuse or neglect, you should report it as soon as possible. It is better to be too safe; let authorities investigate.
If your loved one is in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you should report mistreatment to the Department of Health and Human Services. You can reach them by calling toll-free 1-800-458-9858. An agent is available to speak to you Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. You can leave a message if you call outside those hours and an employee will return your call.
You can report mistreatment of someone not in a facility by calling the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. Someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unfortunately, you cannot submit an email report of suspected mistreatment.
Compassionate Elder Abuse Attorneys
Elder abuse and neglect are outrages which caring family members do not need to tolerate. At DC Law, we have helped many clients hold nursing homes and other facilities responsible when they injure a loved one. To learn more about your options, please call 512-220-1800 to schedule a free consultation.