If you’re concerned about the way your loved one is being treated by a facility or individual caregiver, it’s important to remember that elder abuse is not always reported. Older adults may fear retaliation if they come forward with reports of mistreatment at the hands of someone much younger, particularly if they are facing health problems which affect their mobility and energy level. If the abuse affects your loved one’s health, the abuser may rationalize it as senility, dementia, or a worsening physical condition. How do you know what to believe?
Some forms of elder abuse can leave physical marks on your loved one, like bruises or scratches, but it isn’t always so obvious. Sudden changes in alertness, energy, or self-care can also be a sign of abuse or neglect, particularly if they don’t have a valid medical explanation. Overuse or underuse of medication is a form of elder abuse and may be difficult to notice.
Elder abuse may also involve theft or fraud. Take note if your loved one is missing any of their possessions, including money and medication, particularly narcotic pain relievers. Thieves may target the elderly because they think they can get away with it. Unethical doctors may overcharge for services, charge for services they didn’t provide, or otherwise exploit their patients.
Milder forms of elder abuse may occur right in front of you. For example, a nurse or other caregiver may talk to your loved one in a way you feel is insulting or degrading, or not respect your loved one’s personal space or boundaries. If you witness any behavior that worries you, listen to your gut. It might be a sign that something worse is going on in private. Feeling uncomfortable around your loved one’s caregivers or suddenly having to question their personal character isn’t normal.
Even if you don’t suspect elder abuse, it’s important to talk to your loved one to know if they’re getting the best care that they can, and to make sure the facility is the right one for your family’s needs. If you have questions about your loved one’s rights and whether or not they’ve been violated by a caregiver, the Franco Firm may be able to answer them. Call us at (813) 872-0929 for an initial consultation.