What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse

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What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is unfortunately all too common today’s society. While most caregivers do amazing work helping their patients to feel better, live well, and stay safe, there are those who would seek to manipulate the vulnerable state of elderly individuals for their own gain. In this case, elder abuse is often the result. It can be hard to prove elder abuse because many times the people who are being abused have faulty memories or conditions that render them unable to communicate what’s going on. Others are intimidated into silence. However, if you’ve come to the conclusion that a loved one might be the victim of elder abuse, here’s what you should do.

Gather Evidence

Gather as much evidence as you can. This could be anything from broken glasses and torn clothing to bruises that don’t make sense to behaviors such as rocking or thumb sucking that are often ways to self-comfort in the face of abuse. Photograph and record on video everything that you can that might lend to the case for elder abuse. You also want to gather financial records if you suspect that someone is stealing from your loved one. Make note of unusual patterns of spending, newly added names on accounts or wills, and purchases that your loved one could not have made such as ATM withdrawals when your loved one is bedridden. Compile as much as you can so that when you go to your elder abuse attorney they can have the most complete picture possible of what’s going on.

Ask Your Loved One

If your loved one is in a state where they can communicate and you think abuse is happening, you can ask them in private if anything has been happening. Many times, they won’t tell you because they’ve been intimidated or manipulated into not saying anything. But sometimes you can get an idea as to whether or not abuse is going on just by their reaction. Bringing up some of the names of people who you might think be facilitating the abuse can also tell you a lot about who might be the culprit because your loved one might react in a fearful or agitated way to certain names. Obviously, you don’t want to cause any more upset than you need to when obtaining this information, but it’s important to talk to your loved one if possible to see what’s been going on or gauge their reactions to your concerns.

Talk to the Facility

If you feel that the abuse is happening by a certain person at a facility your loved one is a patient in, make sure to bring your concerns to the attention of the facility. Don’t turn over any original pieces of evidence that you can’t get back, but do take copies of what you’ve found to help present your case. Whether or not you know who it is, the facility should be aware that abuse is taking place. Make a note of the meeting, and record it if you’re allowed to. Even getting an appointment in writing can be helpful because if down the line the facility claims they never knew about the abuse, you have evidence to prove that they did know because you told them.

Talk to the Potential Abuser

If your loved one isn’t at a facility of any kind but you feel they’re being victimized by someone they know, talk to the person if you feel it’s safe. If you think this person might be violent, it might be best not to confront them. At the very least, you might want law enforcement officers with you when you do so that you have some backup if things go south. At the very least, it’s worth bringing up some of the oddities you’ve noticed, such as missing money or unexplained bruises, and simply asking the person if they know anything about them. You don’t have to be accusatory. Their response can tell you a lot. At the very least, you can say that you asked them and they denied knowledge of it in the event that your case goes to court.

Contact Law Enforcement

Elder abuse is a crime, so it’s important to report anything you find suspicious to the authorities. Even if you think they won’t be able to do anything about it yet, having it on record that you were concerned and made a report can help bolster your claim of ongoing abuse if, in the future, you do have enough evidence to go to court.

Call an Elder Abuse Attorney

Only an experienced elder abuse attorney in your area can help you defend your loved one if you end up going to court. However, you don’t have to wait that long until you call an attorney. As soon as you have some evidence that even suggests abuse might be happening, it’s a good idea to get in touch with an elder abuse lawyer so they can be on your side as early as possible. The longer they’re involved, the more background they’ll have and the better chance you’ll have in court.

Elder abuse is unfortunate, and nobody wants to think that someone they love dearly could be the victim of such horrific treatment. However, it’s important to pay attention to the signs of elder abuse and act quickly if you think it might be happening. Gather evidence, talk to your loved one, and bring up any areas of concern to caregivers and facility managers. Make sure to report your concerns and deliver copies of any evidence you have to law enforcement, and document as much as possible. Finally, get a qualified and experienced elder abuse attorney on board as soon as possible so you can help defend your loved one, hold the abuser accountable, and get the person you love out of that situation as soon as possible.

 

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