May 22, 2015 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC
Our nation’s elderly deserve adoration, compassion and respect. Yet sadly, an estimated 1 out of every 10 elderly Americans is believed to endure some sort of abuse or neglect at the hands of caretakers.
Amongst the elderly population suffering from the effects of dementia, the numbers are even higher. Furthermore, the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that only 1 out of every 14 instances of elder abuse is reported to law enforcement – meaning the problem is much more expansive than meets the eye.
Recognizing the warning signs of elder abuse is the first step in eliminating this intolerable form of personal injury. From there, family members and/or caretakers should contact local authorities immediately, followed by a call to a reputable personal injury firm. If you have noticed any of the following, trust your instincts and report your suspicions immediately.
Red Flag #5: Sudden Transfers of Cash or Property: It is not uncommon for elderly individuals to begin gifting their property to family or close friends. However, sudden and unexpected transfers of assets could indicate the presence of undue financial influence by a self-interested party. Likewise, watch for unexplained changes to an estate plan or trust beneficiary, especially if the changes are in favor of the testator’s primary caretaker.
Red Flag #4: Missing Jewelry or Valuables: Along the same lines as the financial abuse described above, elder abuse can also take the form of theft and deceit – particularly against patients suffering from a diminished mental capacity. If your loved one resides in a long-term care facility and you notice unexplained missing valuables, alert supervising authorities immediately. If you cannot recover the missing goods, contact law enforcement for assistance.
Red Flag #3: Unexplained Fear of Caretakers: Even if your loved one has difficulty with communication and/or memory, he or she may still exhibit signs of fear or anxiety in the presence of certain caretakers. If a nurse or orderly enters the room, and your loved one exhibits fearful or defensive body language, this could be a sign that the caretaker is engaging in abusive conduct against the patient.
Red Flag #2: Bed Sores, Infections & Poor Hygiene: Elder abuse is not always hands-on. Sometimes, abuse occurs by the total neglect of a patient’s needs, resulting in injuries and infections. If a patient is left lying too long or is not repositioned throughout the day, he or she will begin to develop epidermal wounds on the areas in contact with the bed. Likewise, a caretakers’ failure to bathe and toilet the patient will often result in infections and will be detectable by the patient’s odor and appearance.
Red Flag #1: Bruises, Broken Bones & Sexual Injuries: Hands-on physical or sexual abuse is often detectable by the presence of unexplained bruises, fractures, or sexual injuries and should be reported immediately to law enforcement. If your loved one exhibits these signs, including damage to the genital area, there is a possibility that serious assaults are taking place against not only your loved one, but other patients as well. Putting a stop to this misconduct is the first priority, and punishing the perpetrators both criminally and civilly should be the next course of action for the patients and their families.
Contact Dodson & Hooks, ALPC for Elder Abuse Counsel
If you suspect elder abuse, do not delay. After contacting the appropriate legal authorities, contact a reputable Baton Rouge personal injury law firm immediately to discuss your options in negligence or civil assault and battery. For a consultation, call Dodson & Hooks, ALPC today at 225-756-0222.