Anytime an elderly loved one is being cared for by others, whether at a long-term care facility or by at-home caregivers, it is difficult not to worry about their physical and mental wellbeing. This is especially true given the prevalence of elder abuse. The Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC discuss what to do if you believe a loved one is the victim of elder abuse.
The Harsh Reality of Elder Abuse
Sadly, elder abuse is probably more prevalent than most people realize. Moreover, reports of elder abuse have increased dramatically in recent years as the older population in the U.S. continues to grow at a record pace. Consider the following facts and figures:
- Experts believe 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 reported, as many as 14 go unreported.
- Only 30 percent of victims of elder sexual abuse report it to authorities
- In almost 60 percent of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
- More than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90 percent say that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse?
If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused or neglected, you should follow up immediately. Whether there are numerous signs of abuse, or you just feel that something is wrong, listen to your instincts. Then take the following steps:
- Try to talk to your loved one. One of the biggest problems with preventing and/or punishing elder abuse is that the victims are frequently too ashamed or embarrassed to speak out. Encourage your parent to confide in you and assure your parent that you will do something about the abuse.
- Speak to the administration or management. If your parent is at a nursing home or is receiving care through a home health agency, ask to speak to a supervisor or administrator right away. Sometimes this can be extremely productive while other times they simply circle the wagons and go get nowhere. You do not know until you try though.
- Call a family meeting. If the caregiver in question is a family member, which is often the case, call a family meeting. This can be a very delicate situation; however, you must try and address your concerns even if it is a family member that you suspect of causing the abuse.
- File a report with the local police department. In most jurisdictions, elder abuse is a crime. You should file an official report even if you believe the police won’t follow up. As the issue of elder abuse becomes a more well-known problem, law enforcement agencies are getting better at recognizing the signs and apprehending perpetrators. Give them a chance to do the right thing.
- Petition for guardianship if necessary. If your concerns are related to a parent, and you do not already have guardianship, you may need to become your parent’s guardian so that you can rapidly remove your parent from a dangerous situation now and in the future.
- Consult with an elder law attorney. Elder abuse is a criminal offense as well as potentially providing the basis for a civil lawsuit. Talk to an elder law attorney about your legal options as well as for assistance petitioning for guardianship.
Contact Los Angeles Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder abuse or other elder law issues, contact the experienced Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group APCby calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.