If you have an elderly parent, grandparent, or another loved one who is being cared for in a long-term care facility or by an in-home caregiver, you undoubtedly worry about the quality of the care they are receiving. If you become concerned that your loved one is being abused, that worry escalates exponentially. Before taking further steps, however, you need to confirm your suspicions. With that in mind, the Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft discuss how to prove that a loved one is the victim of elder abuse.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse and neglect take many forms and can occur in a variety of settings. Experts typically recognize the following types of elder abuse:
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Passive neglect
- Willful deprivation
- Financial exploitation
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that financial exploitation is the most prevalent form of elder abuse, followed closely by caregiver neglect and psychological abuse.
Elder Abuse Facts and Figures
For several decades the elder population in the United States has grown dramatically and experts predict that the number of older Americans will continue to grow faster than other age demographics in the decades to come. While elder abuse is not a new phenomenon, the increased number of older Americans has caused the issue to be thrust into the spotlight in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), one in ten seniors (age 65 or older) will experience some form of elder abuse each year. Sadly, most incidences of elder abuse are not reported. The DOJ estimates that only one in 20 incidences of physical abuse, one in 44 acts of financial abuse, and one in 57 incidences of caregiver neglect are reported.
Ways to Prove Elder Abuse
Becoming suspicious that an elderly loved one is the victim of elder abuse is a horrible feeling – but one you should not ignore. While you should confirm your suspicions before acting, if you feel as though something is wrong there is a good chance that there is, indeed, something wrong. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove elder abuse is occurring for several reasons. Often, the victim of elder abuse is unable to communicate because of physical limitations or dementia. Even if your loved one is capable of disclosing the abuse, many elderly victims remain silent. Some do so because they are embarrassed to be a victim while others fear reprisals from their abuser. To confirm your suspicions, try taking some of the following steps:
- Ask your loved one. Be gentle and reassuring but ask your loved one directly about your concerns.
- Insist on a meeting with a supervisor. Sometimes this will only result in an attempt to cover up the abuse; however, it puts them on notice that you are watching, and it can result in action being taken to protect your loved one.
- Take your loved one to your doctor. Have a thorough medical evaluation completed by a physician that you trust after explaining your concerns. A doctor may be able to support or discount your suspicions.
- Review bank accounts and finances. If you have the authority to do so, review your loved one’s financial statements and accounts to see if there are unexplained withdrawals or transfers.
- Request medical records. When possible, request all medical records for your loved one for the preceding year and look for a pattern of unexplained bruises, factures, weight loss, worsening medical conditions, or anything else that might indicate abuse or neglect.
What to Do After You Prove Elder Abuse
If you feel that you have enough to prove elder abuse (or even if you do not but still believe it is happening), you can file a complaint with Adult Protective Services. You should also consult with an experienced elder law attorney to discuss your legal options.
Contact Indianapolis Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how to eliminate estate and inheritance taxes, contact the experienced Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.
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