As the American population ages, issues that focus on the elderly are becoming more of a concern. Unfortunately, that includes the increasing frequency with which the elderly are abused and neglected. Nursing home neglect and abuse, in particular, has been the focus of both legislature and law enforcement in recent years as a result of studies and investigations that indicate abuse and neglect in long-term care settings occurs far more often than previously believed to be the case. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may be wondering “What should I do if I suspect nursing home neglect or abuse?”
Worrying that an elderly loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect is a horrible feeling. Like many people, you may initially feel angry as well as helpless. You are not helpless though. There are both criminal and civil laws that may be able to help protect your loved one. Along with contacting an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options, there are some additional steps you can take to help confirm your suspicions and ensure that the abusers are punished, including:
- Talk to your loved one. Although this may not get you anywhere, it is worth a try. Victims of elder abuse often refuse to admit the abuse out of fear or shame. Be sure to let your loved one know that you are available should he/she ever want to talk.
- Look for physical signs. These may include things such as bruising around the wrists or ankles from restraints, excessive or unexplained injuries, weight loss, and unkempt appearance.
- Look for behavioral signs. A change in mood is often a good sign that the individual is being abused. Uncharacteristic anger or depression are specifically telling. Withdrawal or hostility are also frequent signs of abuse.
- Visit unannounced. Show up when you are not expected to see where your loved one is and how he/she is being treated. It is harder to hide signs of abuse in the spur of the moment.
- Watch for a trigger. Sometimes, a specific staff person will clearly cause your loved one to react differently. It could be anger, fear or any other strong emotion that is expressed, but look for something that causes reaction from him/her.
- Confer with your loved one’s primary care doctor. By primary care doctor, we are not referring to a nursing home doctor. Talk to a doctor who treated your loved one prior to admission into the nursing home to see if the doctor agrees that there are unexplained changes in behavior and/or physical symptoms of abuse or neglect.
If you believe that your elderly loved one is being abused or neglected at a nursing home, contact the Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Broussard & Hart, LLC by calling 337-439-2450 to schedule your appointment today to discuss your legal options.