For years, adult children have been faced with the decision of how to provide the best care for their aging parents. Many of these individuals are not able to afford private care or in-home caregivers, and thus must turn to nursing homes and other care facilities, trusting that the staff will provide a high level of care and quality of life for their loved ones. However, this is not always the case – in fact, many families experience the opposite when it comes to placing their elderly in these facilities.
According to one New Jersey study done in 2002, 70,000 elderly individuals were at risk of suffering some form of elder abuse at the hands of a caregiver, while less than 4% of that abuse was actually reported. (This number was projected to continue going up, and it is now estimated that up to 29% of facilities in New Jersey provide subpar care to elderly patients, including unsafe and unsanitary living conditions.)
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent elder abuse or, if your loved one has suffered at the hands of a caregiver, help those who have been mistreated to find comfort and peace again through therapy and legal action. Some families do not have an option when it comes to selecting a nursing home or care facility – thankfully, all families have options available to them when this kind of tragedy occurs.
Preventing Elder Abuse
It should go without saying that the ultimate goal of any family looking for a nursing home for their loved one is to prevent any type of abuse at all. This includes knowing what to look for in a facility, as well as knowing the signs of elder abuse and when to get involved. These two precautions require research and vigilance on the part of family members, as every visit to the facility and your loved one is a chance for you to observe how they are being treated.
What To Do If You Suspect Abuse
However, even the most observant family member can miss subtle signs that are linked to elder abuse. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, you should contact your area’s Adult Protective Services or call an elder abuse hotline to report the caregiver or facility.
After your family member has been removed from the abusive situation, they will likely need help dealing with the trauma that they have experienced. While this may seem like a daunting task, as there are many forms of abuse and multiple ways of dealing with trauma, you, as a caregiver, do have options.
First, you should consider finding your elder a qualified counselor or therapist that can help them begin the road to recovery and work through their experiences. This type of treatment may include psychotherapy (talk therapy) or group therapy in which abuse victims can find solidarity with others who have experienced the same sort of abuse, as well as fully identify what has happened to them.
Second, once you have determined what kind of abuse your loved one has suffered, you may need to obtain physical therapy or other medical procedures for them in order to repair any physical trauma they may have experienced.
Third, you and your family must decide where your loved one is going to be staying during their treatment and healing. Because you made the initial decision to place them in a care facility, it is quite possible that you are still not in the position to care for them yourself, and therefore must find either a new facility and risk further trauma or seek out help from private caregivers, which can cost a small fortune.
All three of these steps are vital to your loved one’s journey to recovery. However, all three are also expensive and require a financial commitment that you may not be able to afford. Luckily, there are many qualified attorneys who specialize in prosecuting elder abuse cases and can help you recover money damages to help cover the cost of therapy and treatment.
If you and your loved one find yourself in this unfortunate position, reaching out to one of these lawyers or working with a local advocacy group who can help you find an attorney may help you bear some of the financial burdens that these types of tragedies can create.
Elder abuse is, sadly, an all too common occurrence in today’s nursing homes and care facilities. If your loved one has suffered at the hands of an incompetent facility or caregiver, it can be comforting to know that there are options available to you to help your family member cope with the after effects of the abuse and hopefully get them on the road to recovery and back to the high quality of life that they deserve.