How Can the Elderly Protect Themselves?

Elder abuse and neglect are rampant in nursing homes across the country. Each day it seems, there are new reports ranging from flagrant abuse to inadequate care of one of the most vulnerable treasures in our society.

There's no question that the elderly are more vulnerable than others, but they do have the ability to protect themselves. As long as an elderly person is lucid, he or she can: 

  • Get help keeping financial affairs in order. It becomes more difficult to take care of financial matters as one age. At the very least, elderly people should have a trusted loved one to help keep their books. In most cases, it's advisable to have a professional accountant or lawyer assist. In addition to helping with the accounting, this minimizes the chances that anyone will be able to take financial advantage of your elderly loved ones. Any person who takes advantage of an elderly person, no matter if the elder is coherent or showing signs of dementia, should be reported to the Adult Protective Agency in your area as well as to the police. 
  • Report any abuse. Most elder abuse occurs because it isn't reported. Elderly people should be encouraged to speak up about anything that is bothering them about the care they are (or aren't) receiving. Each state has a hotline to report elder abuse. If an elderly person is unable or unwilling to report abuse for themselves, report it for them. 
  • Stay connected. Elderly people are less vulnerable to abuse when they are in regular touch with family and friends. 
  • Learn what constitutes abuse and neglect. It helps prevent elder abuse when an elderly person knows and understands what level of care they should be able to expect. When an elderly person understands their rights, they are more likely to report violations of those rights.
  • Be aware of the various forms of abuse. Some types of abuse and neglect are fairly obvious. Others are more subtle. Make sure your elderly loved ones know that they have a right to be treated with respect. This includes their physical person, of course, but also includes their finances and emotional well-being. Elderly people have the same basic rights as anyone else and violating those rights is abuse.
  • Make sure a loved one is familiar with the policies of any care facility an elderly person is in. Know what medications (and dosages) are prescribed and given. Know what the restraint policies are if the elderly person's condition is likely to make sedation or restraint necessary.

Don't Suffer Alone or in Silence

The elderly deserve adequate care and respect. It is their right legally and morally. If you know of an elderly person who may be suffering abuse, take steps to ensure the problem is addressed. Get involved. Ask questions. Make phone calls if necessary. At the very least, be the one they can turn to if they need to talk about or report neglect.

Encourage the elderly to report abuse and neglect to your state's adult protective services agency and/or to call a lawyer to address concerns. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, do it for them.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a problem with elder abuse and/or neglect, contact the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm to learn your legal rights and see if you have a case. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.