If your elderly parent receives assistance for their basic needs, whether from skilled nursing care or from a family member, they at an increased risk for abuse.
In fact, roughly 1 to 2 million people in the United States who are over the age of 65 have been the victim of some form of mistreatment or injury at the hands of a caregiver. Additionally, only about 20 percent of elder abuse cases are reported to the proper authorities. If you suspect that your parent is the victim of elder abuse, here are six steps that you need to take right away.
1. Open the Lines of Communication
If you suspect that your parent is the victim of elder abuse, you need to open the lines of communication. Your parent needs to know that they can talk to you about their mistreatment. Abuse is often a difficult subject to discuss, especially among the elderly who may feel alone and isolated. Not only that, but the abuser may have them living in fear.
As soon as you suspect abuse, sit down with your parent to discuss your concerns. If your parent seems fearful to speak, take them somewhere else to talk — preferably somewhere they’ll feel safe and secure.
2. Get the Family Involved
If you suspect elder abuse, don’t keep your concerns to yourself. Get your family involved in the situation. This is an important step for a number of reasons.
First, once you discuss your concerns, you may find that other family members have witnessed things as well. Second, when you come together as a family, you can develop a plan of action to protect your parent. Finally, if you suspect that a family member is the perpetrator of the abuse, you can let them know that you’re aware of the situation.
3. Document Your Suspicions
If you’re concerned that your parent is the victim of mistreatment, neglect, or abuse, document your suspicions. Your documentation should include detailed notes that pertain to specific events, such as unexplained injuries. You should also document instances where your parent has been fearful or apprehensive around specific people, such as certain caregivers.
4. Report the Case to the Appropriate Officials
If it becomes apparent that your parent has experienced abuse at the hands of a caregiver, report the case to the appropriate officials. First, if your parent is in skilled nursing facility, report your concerns to a member of management. Next, file a report with law enforcement. Finally, contact adult protective services in your area and file an abuse report.
When you file a report with all three departments, you’re assured that your claim is taken seriously and that appropriate measures are taken to protect your parent.
5. File to Obtain Conservatorship Over Your Parent
If your parent is the victim of physical and financial abuse, file to obtain conservatorship. This is particularly important where financial abuse is concerned. In cases of financial abuse, a caregiver will take control of bank accounts and other assets. If your parent is the victim of financial abuse, a conservatorship allows you to take control of the assets so that the abuser is unable to access accounts.
6. Speak to an Attorney
If you suspect that your elderly parent is the victim of abuse, contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can help you get your parent into a safer environment and complete the necessary legal documents you’ll need to protect your parent. In the case of financial abuse, an attorney will help you track down bank funds that have been stolen.
If you suspect that your parent is the victim of elder abuse and you live in the Houma, LA area, contact us at St. Martin & Bourque. We’re here to help.