As we age, so do our parents, grandparents, and other older family members. At some point, a role reversal often occurs, where you become the protector and your older family members become vulnerable. As a result of physical and/or mental deterioration, your older family members may eventually need additional assistance around the house or may even need around the clock care in a long-term care facility. Despite your best efforts to ensure that the people caring for your loved one are competent, caring, and compassionate, there may come a time when you begin to be suspicious of the care your loved one is receiving. You may even suspect your elderly loved one is the victim of elder abuse. The Indianapolis elder law lawyers at Frank & Kraft explain what steps you should take if you suspect a loved one is the victim of elder abuse.
How Often Does Elder Abuse Occur?
Elder abuse is not a new problem in the United States; however, the recent population explosion in the over 65 demographic has heightened awareness of the problem. Unfortunately, accurate statistics regarding the frequency with which the elderly are abused are difficult to come by for several reasons. As states enact new laws and procedures relating to elder abuse, uniform reporting requirements remain elusive. In addition, many victims of elder abuse are ashamed to admit being abused or fear reprisals by the abuser on whom they often depend for everything from transportation to housing. Nevertheless, experts offer the following conservative estimates:
- More than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reports, as many as 14 go unreported.
- 1 in 20 older adults indicate some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past
- In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- 7-10 percent of the elderly suffered from at least one episode of abuse within the past year.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Elder Abuse
There are few feelings worse than suspecting a loved one is being abused – particularly if that loved one is a parent or grandparent. The desire to rush in and protect your loved one is strong; however, most people are not sure where to turn when they suspect elder abuse, making the situation even more frustrating. There are some steps you should consider taking if you suspect elder abuse, including:
- Talk to your parent//grandparent/loved one. When possible, try talking to your loved one first. Assure him/her that there is no reason to be ashamed of being a victim nor to fear reprisals. Try and confirm your suspicions. Often, this is not possible if your loved one suffers from dementia or is otherwise unable to communicate clearly.
- Meet with a supervisor or administrator. Schedule an immediate meeting with a supervisor if the potential perpetrator is a home health aide or someone similar or with an administrator if your loved one is in a facility. Sometimes. This can be extremely productive while other times you will only hear denials and will hit the proverbial brick wall.
- Make a police report. Elder abuse can be a criminal offense. Making a police report creates a paper trial and will hopefully lead to an investigation.
- File a formal complaint. In Indiana, you can file a formal complaint about a health care facility with the Indiana State Department of Health.
- Consult an elder law lawyer. While elder abuse is often a crime, elder abuse can also be the basis for a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and/or the facility. It is always a good idea to discuss this possibility with an experienced elder law attorney. In addition, if your loved one is reluctant to speak out, or is suffering from dementia, you may need to petition for guardianship in order to move your loved one to a new facility.
Contact Indianapolis Elder Law Lawyers
For more information, please join us for one of our FREE seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder abuse contact the experienced Indianapolis elder law lawyers at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.