Protect Your Loved One From Elder Abuse

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In the wake of last week's news of horrible elder abuse and torture by one man, it's time to remind people on how to protect your loved ones.

I found a great article on the blog of CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondant Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in which they comment on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which is coming up next Tuesday.  A horrible account of elder abuse hit the news stands a week ago, in which a man was charged with 6 years to life in prison for the disturbing acts of elder abuse he committed.  Investigators report that he “body-slammed” a 74 year-old woman and man, and repeatedly punched another elderly man in the face.

The National Center on Elderly Abuse reports that nearly 2 million people in the United States over age 65 have been exploited, neglected or harmed by their care-taker.  As a Seattle injury lawyer, I find this number to be staggering.  The top complaints of nursing home residents are physical, verbal and sexual abuse.  Here are three things the article covered to help protect your elderly loved one from abuse.

1. Know what signs to look for.  Many times, abusers will target individuals with a history of dementia because people won’t always believe them if they make a claim that someone is abusing them.  For a complete list of red flags, please visit this site for the National Center on Elder Abuse.  Visit your loved ones frequently and watch out for unexplained bruises or injuries, behavioral changes, not wanting to see visitors, and sudden weight loss.

2. If you suspect that your elderly loved one is suffering from abuse, immediately submit a report to the National Center on Elderly Abuse and notify the National Consumer Voice For Long-Term Care which monitors nursing home environments.

3.  Carefully choose your loved one’s living facility.  Take the time to research different facilities, read up on reviews, visit the facility, interview current tenants, and make sure they are in good standing with the state.  You can visit the website for Medicare.gov to see a list of facilities certified by Medicare and Medicaid with ratings on each.

Kirk Bernard

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