Finding out your elderly loved one has been abused in some way, be it neglect or another form of harm, can be completely devastating. The facility or person you put faith in to take care of them caused them harm, rather than looking out for their well-being. You do have options available to you, but it may require a lot of work on your part.
Get Your Loved One To A Safer Place
Even if you have to make arrangements for your loved one to stay at your house for the time being, do whatever it takes to get them away from the source of abuse. If your loved one requires professional medical care, such as around-the-clock monitoring, contact the primary physician involved for an immediate transfer recommendation. If it's not possible to move your loved one, be sure to check on them frequently and talk to the person in charge of the facility, making sure they are aware of the abuse and know that you're taking action about it.
Have Them Examined By A Professional
It's important to involve an outside medical opinion regarding the care and status of the victim, whether the abuse was physical or verbal. If your elderly friend or relative was verbally abused, they may benefit from being able to talk about it with a therapist. With any kind of physical abuse, you need adequate proof of harm, so have the victim examined by a doctor, who can note bruises, broken bones, bed sores and more on official physician forms. Make sure you include the treatment needed as a result of the abuse, including the costs and what you had to go through (fuel expenses, missed time at work, etc), as well as the toll the entire ordeal took on the victim.
Follow-up care may be needed, especially in the case of frail elderly people or if the abuse caused fright that may transfer to the next place of care or residence. Record every detail of each step in the process and reassure your loved one that you have done and will continue to do everything you can to protect them. This is not an easy situation for them to endure.
Report The Matter To The Local Authorities
If you have sufficient evidence and you believe the abuse of your elderly loved one warrants it, contact the local police. They can file a report on your and the victim's behalf, interview the direct-care and administrative staff and forward what they discover for possible prosecution. Your personal injury case would be separate from a criminal case; however, criminal proceedings, especially if successful, would bolster your personal injury claim considerably.
Reporting the abuse to the police could also initiate investigations into the licensing and regulation of the facility or care provider in question, possibly leading to them being shut down if warranted or re-evaluated and forced into conducting business to a higher standard.
Document The Case With As Much Evidence As You Can Gather
Put all of the paperwork, statements, photographs, receipts, etc. that you have accumulated together, so you can move forward with a legal case. Make sure you can present a time-line of the incident(s) of abuse and identify the responsible parties with specificity. Depending on the type and severity of abuse, the pursuit of your case may yield considerable compensation. Understanding the general classifications of the more common forms of elder abuse as you put your documentation together will be helpful.
- Physical: Any injury inflicted on your elderly loved one, or pain, even in the absence of injury.
- Emotional: This can be verbal abuse, such as yelling, intimidating, embarrassing, threatening or otherwise belittling someone.
- Deprivation: Any denial of food, medicine, comfort, services, dignity and other provisions, especially (but not limited to) those promised by the caregiver or facility contractually.
- Confinement: Unnecessary restraints, locking doors or not providing access to other areas, unless it was done so for safety reasons.
- Sexual: Any inappropriate, non-consensual physical contact or conduct, most especially if the elder in question is unable to provide consent (such as the case with dementia).
- Financial: Misusing or taking funds, taking personal property or refusing to allow access to funds or property belonging to the victim, unless it's for reasons of safety.
There are many ways in which an elder can be abused, but to proceed with a strong case, you need to be as specific and detailed as possible.
Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer
At any point in what you're going through, but definitely when you've gathered incriminating facts and evidence against the party responsible for taking care of your loved one, contact a personal injury attorney. If you're not sure how to handle something, such as being met with resistance in obtaining relevant records, you need outside, experienced assistance. A lawyer won't just put the case together in legal form and function, they'll also be able to plow right through the red tape you may be presented with. Give your attorney every piece of evidence and your total cooperation and you stand a very good chance of finding justice within the courts and an appropriate settlement or jury-awarded compensation for all that you and your elderly loved one have been through.
Don't Blame Yourself
It's important that you and your elderly loved one try to move on from the abuse that's gone on and that you don't hold yourself accountable for the actions of someone else. As horrible as the images in your mind may be of the wrongdoing that took place, push them away and focus on finding a way to make the situation right. Especially for the sake of other elderly people remaining in the care of the facility or people who abused your loved one, you need to see your case through to the end.
As hard as it is to believe, there are, on average, over 2 million cases of elderly abuse reported every year. At least you found out it was happening to someone you care about, at least you're doing something about it and at least your loved one has such a formidable advocate. For more information or assistance, visit websites like http://www.centralnylaw.com.