Every year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 face abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Elder abuse, in all its forms, can occur anywhere, from the privacy of our own homes to the halls of an assisted living facility. The idea of misplaced trust and care devastates many seniors and their families. To help combat this injustice, elder abuse attorneys Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault are committed to providing guidance and support to those in need. It’s essential to understand and address nursing home abuse, and our attorneys are there to help in any way possible.


What is Elder Abuse and Neglect?


Elder abuse encompasses physical, emotional, or sexual harm inflicted upon an older adult, their financial exploitation, or neglect of their welfare by those responsible for their care. In the United States alone, authorities receive more than half a million reports of elder abuse annually, with millions more cases going unreported.


Understanding the Scope of Elder Abuse


Elder abuse isn’t limited to physical harm. It also includes emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect. Older adults are particularly vulnerable due to their physical frailty and potential cognitive impairments, making them easy targets for unscrupulous individuals.


Statistics Highlighting the Prevalence


Elder abuse is alarmingly common in the U.S. Reports to authorities exceed 500,000 annually, but the actual prevalence is probably higher due to numerous undisclosed cases. Studies show that only one out of 24 instances of elder abuse gets reported. This substantial disparity underscores the urgency for heightened awareness and robust reporting systems. Around one in 10 Americans aged 60 and above have encountered some elder abuse.

The Importance of Nursing Home Residents’ Rights


Understanding the rights of nursing home residents is crucial for ensuring their safety and well-being. These rights are designed to protect residents from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Knowing these rights empowers families to advocate effectively for their loved ones.

The Right to Dignity and Respect


Every nursing home resident deserves dignified and respectful treatment. This includes avoiding any demeaning or humiliating actions. Maintaining a positive environment and engaging in respectful interactions are crucial for their mental and emotional well-being.

Address residents by their preferred names and titles. They can actively participate in their care plans and decide on their daily routines. This active involvement nurtures autonomy and self-worth.

The Right to Privacy and Confidentiality


Privacy, a fundamental human right, also applies to nursing home residents. They deserve privacy in personal matters like medical treatments, communications, and personal care, with strict maintenance of confidentiality for their medical records and personal information. Providing residents with private spaces for phone calls and visits enables them to nurture relationships with loved ones without interference. Maintaining confidentiality in medical records safeguards sensitive information from misuse.

The Right to Freedom from Abuse and Neglect


Abuse and neglect in nursing homes violate residents’ rights seriously. Abuse can manifest in various forms: physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse. Neglect occurs when necessary care is not provided, resulting in harm or discomfort.

Families should actively watch for signs of abuse and neglect. Physical signs may consist of bruises, bedsores, or sudden weight loss. Emotional signs may show as withdrawal, anxiety, or depression. Taking prompt action is crucial to safeguard residents from further harm.


Who Are the Abusers?


Abusers are often individuals directly responsible for the senior’s care, such as adult children, other family members, spouses, or partners. Abuse can also occur in institutional settings like long-term care facilities, where staff members may be the perpetrators.


Types of Nursing Home Abuse


Physical Elder Abuse


Physical elder abuse involves the non-accidental use of force against an older person, resulting in physical pain, injury, or impairment. This can include physical assaults such as hitting, shoving, or even the inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement. It’s essential to recognize the signs of physical abuse to ensure swift intervention and protection.

For instance, if an older person frequently has unexplained bruises, broken bones, or signs of restraint marks, it might be a red flag. Caregivers and family members should notice these signs and take immediate action. In many cases, physical elder abuse is underreported due to fear or inability to communicate, making awareness and proactive measures paramount.

Families should always seek regular medical check-ups for their elderly relatives to identify unusual injuries. If suspicions arise, contacting a nursing home abuse attorney can guide the necessary steps to address the issue legally.


Emotional Elder Abuse


Emotional elder abuse involves treating an older adult in ways that cause emotional or psychological pain or distress. This type of abuse can be more challenging to detect but is equally damaging. Forms of emotional elder abuse include intimidation through yelling or threats, humiliation and ridicule, habitual blaming or scapegoating, ignoring the older adult, isolating them from friends or activities, and terrorizing or menacing behavior.

For example, if an older adult shows signs of depression, anxiety, or withdrawal, it could be an indication of emotional abuse. Caregivers who belittle or demean their charges or isolate them from social interactions are not providing the compassionate care they deserve. Family members must pay close attention to mood or behavior changes and promptly address any concerns.

Engaging with the older person regularly and encouraging open communication can help reveal any emotional abuse they may be experiencing. Additionally, consulting a nursing home abuse attorney can facilitate the process of investigating and taking legal action against the abusers.


Sexual Elder Abuse


Sexual elder abuse involves any non-consensual contact with an older adult. This can include physical sex acts, showing pornographic material, forcing them to watch sexual acts, or making them undress. It is a heinous form of abuse that often goes unnoticed due to the victim’s vulnerability or inability to voice their experiences.

Signs of sexual elder abuse may include unexplained genital infections, bruises around the breasts or genital area, and torn or stained clothing. Caregivers and family members must be aware of these indicators and take immediate action if any are observed. The trauma from such abuse can have long-lasting effects on the victim’s mental and physical well-being.

Reporting suspected sexual abuse to the authorities and seeking the assistance of a nursing home abuse attorney can help ensure the abuser is held accountable, and the victim receives the necessary support and protection.


Financial Exploitation


Financial exploitation involves the unauthorized use of an older person’s funds or property by a caregiver or an outside scam artist. Common forms of financial abuse include misusing personal checks or credit cards, stealing cash or household goods, forging signatures, and engaging in identity theft.

For instance, sudden changes in an older person’s financial situation, such as large withdrawals or unusual spending patterns, could signal financial exploitation. Family members should regularly review financial statements and remain vigilant for any discrepancies. Elderly individuals may also receive bills for services they did not authorize or notice missing personal belongings.

To prevent financial exploitation, safeguards such as power of attorney, financial monitoring, and the involvement of trusted family members in financial decisions should be established. In cases where exploitation is suspected, a nursing home abuse attorney can provide legal advice and assist in recovering stolen assets.


Understanding the Warning Signs


Nursing home abuse involves any harm or distress caused to an older adult in a care facility. It can take many forms, from physical harm to emotional manipulation. Understanding the different types of abuse in nursing homes is the first step in protecting your loved one.


Physical Abuse Warning Signs


Physical abuse is often the most apparent form of abuse, but it can still go unnoticed. Look out for these signs:

  • Unexplained Injuries: Bruises, welts, or scars, especially symmetrical bruising, can indicate physical abuse.
  • Fractures and Sprains: Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations are serious red flags.
  • Overdose or Neglect: An unexpected drug overdose or indications that medication is not being administered correctly.
  • Broken Eyeglasses: Damaged eyeglasses or frames may signal physical altercations.
  • Restraint Marks: Rope marks on wrists or other signs suggestive of restraints.
  • Restricted Access: Caregivers refusing to allow you to see the elder alone.

Emotional Abuse Warning Signs


Emotional abuse can be subtle but equally damaging. The signs include:

  • Threatening Behavior: Caregivers who belittle, threaten, or control the older adult.
  • Behavioral Mimicry: The elder may exhibit behavior mimicking dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to themselves.

Sexual Abuse Warning Signs


Sexual abuse in nursing homes is a grave concern. Warning signs include:

  • Bruising: Around breasts or genital areas.
  • Unexplained Bleeding: Vaginal or anal bleeding without a clear cause.
  • Damaged Clothing: Torn, stained, or bloody underwear.

Neglect or Self-Neglect Warning Signs


Neglect can severely affect an elder’s health and well-being. Look for:

  • Weight Loss: Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, or dehydration.
  • Untreated Issues: Physical problems like bed sores that are left untreated.
  • Unsanitary Conditions: Dirty living conditions, including soiled bedding and clothing.
  • Poor Hygiene: The elder being left dirty or unbathed.
  • Inadequate Clothing: Clothing inappropriate for the weather.
  • Unsafe Living Conditions: No heat, running water, or other hazardous living conditions.
  • Abandonment: Being deserted in a public place.

Financial Exploitation Warning Signs


Financial exploitation involves the unauthorized use of an elder’s funds or assets. Signs include:

  • Financial Changes: Significant withdrawals from accounts or sudden changes in financial status.
  • Missing Items: Cash or valuables disappearing from the elder’s residence.
  • Suspicious Document Changes: Unexplained changes to wills, power of attorney, or titles.
  • Additional Signatures: New names are added to the elder’s signature cards.
  • Inconsistent Activity: Financial activity that the elder could not have performed, such as ATM withdrawals if bedridden.
  • Unnecessary Services: Charges for goods or services that are not needed.

Healthcare Fraud or Abuse Warning Signs


Healthcare fraud occurs when caregivers exploit billing or medical services. Be alert to:

  • Duplicate Billings: Multiple charges for the same service or device.
  • Medication Issues: Evidence of overmedication or under-medication.
  • Care Discrepancies: Signs of inadequate care despite bills being paid in full.
  • Facility Issues: Poorly trained or insufficient staff, overcrowding, or inadequate responses to care questions.


Typical Scams That Target Elders


Prize Announcements


One common scam involves announcing a “prize” that the elderly person has supposedly won. The catch? They must pay money to claim their reward. Scammers often use convincing tactics, making it seem like a legitimate contest. However, no reputable competition asks winners to pay fees upfront.

These scams can be particularly devastating, draining an older adult’s savings and causing emotional distress. Families must educate loved ones about these tactics and encourage skepticism toward unexpected prize announcements. Always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Phony Charities


Another prevalent scam targets older adults through fake charities. These scammers prey on the goodwill of older adults, who are often more charitable. Fraudsters create convincing names and stories to solicit donations, which never reach those in need. Instead, the money goes directly into the scammer’s pocket.

It’s crucial to verify the legitimacy of any charity before donating. Websites like Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau can help confirm if a charity is genuine. Encourage your elderly loved ones to consult these resources before donating.

Investment Fraud


Investment fraud is another method scammers use to exploit older adults. These schemes promise high returns with little risk, luring seniors into parting with their hard-earned savings. The reality is that these “investment opportunities” are often too good to be true, resulting in significant financial losses.

To protect against investment fraud, consult a financial advisor and conduct thorough research before investing. Never rush into decisions, and always seek a second opinion from a trusted source.


Healthcare Fraud and Abuse


Unethical Practices


Healthcare fraud and abuse are serious issues that can have dire consequences for older adults. Unethical doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers may engage in fraudulent activities, such as not providing necessary care but still charging for it. This type of fraud compromises the health and well-being of older adults and strains their financial resources.

Families must remain vigilant and monitor the healthcare services provided to their loved ones. Regularly reviewing medical bills and seeking second opinions can help identify and prevent healthcare fraud.


Overcharging and Double-Billing


Another form of healthcare fraud involves overcharging or double-billing for medical care or services. This unethical practice can quickly deplete an older adult’s finances, leaving them unable to afford necessary treatments and care.

To combat this, families should carefully review all medical bills and statements. Any discrepancies or suspicious charges should be immediately addressed with the healthcare provider or insurance company.


Kickbacks and Fraudulent Prescriptions


Unethical healthcare providers may receive kickbacks for referrals to other providers or for prescribing certain drugs. This practice not only endangers the health of older adults but also undermines the integrity of the healthcare system.

Families should be aware of the medications and treatments being prescribed to their loved ones. Seeking second opinions and consulting with pharmacists can help ensure that prescriptions are necessary and appropriate.


Reporting Elder Abuse


If you suspect that an elder is being abused by a primary caregiver, such as an adult child, it is crucial to take immediate action. However, confronting the abuser can be dangerous and may put the elder at greater risk. Follow these steps instead:


Don’t Confront the Abuser Alone


Confronting the abuser without a clear plan and support can escalate the situation. If you have the elder’s permission and a safe place for them to go, only then consider confronting the abuser. Otherwise, gather evidence and consult with professionals.


Find Strength in Numbers


If the suspected abuser is a family member, other relatives might have the best chance of convincing the elder to seek alternative care. Approach the situation as a united front to demonstrate to older adults that they have multiple sources of support.

Address Feelings of Shame


Feelings of shame and disbelief often prevent elders from admitting they are being abused. Address these feelings with compassion, emphasizing that the sooner the issue is addressed, the better the outcome will be for everyone involved.


The Importance of Reporting


When you witness suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation, it’s easy to think that “someone else should do something.” However, each of us must take action. Reporting these issues can save lives and improve the quality of life for vulnerable elders.


Who Can Report?


Anyone in Ohio can report suspected elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation without any cost. You can file a report anonymously, and there are no penalties for making reports in good faith, even if the suspected abuse is not confirmed.


Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Abuse: Ohio Law


To better protect older adults, Ohio law has recently expanded the definition of elder abuse and the groups of individuals required to report suspicions of it. These mandatory reporters now include:

  • Professionals: Pharmacists, doctors, dentists, peace officers, coroners, clergy, social workers, hospital employees, and more.
  • Employees: Those working in outpatient health facilities, the health department, or as ambulance drivers and first responders.
  • Financial Experts: Certified public accountants, bank employees, savings and loans, credit union employees, real estate brokers or agents, notary publics, investment advisors, and accredited financial planners.

How to Report Elder Abuse


If you believe an elder is being abused, neglected, or exploited, immediately report the situation to the appropriate authorities. Here are the steps to follow:

Gather Information


Collect as much information as possible about the elder’s situation, including specific instances of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Document any physical signs, behavioral changes, or financial irregularities.

Contact Authorities


In Ohio, you can report elder abuse to the Department of Job and Family Services. Contact local law enforcement or Adult Protective Services for immediate assistance.

Reports of elder abuse can be made to local adult protective services or by calling 1-855-OHIO-APS (1-855-644-6277) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Follow Up


After filing a report, follow up with the authorities to ensure that the case is being investigated. Stay in touch with the elder and continue to offer your support.


The Role of Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys


Why You Need an Attorney


Nursing home abuse attorneys are experienced in litigating cases involving mistreatment in care facilities. Additionally, they help families seek justice and compensation for their loved ones.


Finding the Right Attorney


When looking for attorneys with experience in elder abuse cases, it’s important to check their track record, read reviews, and schedule consultations to find the best fit.


Legal Process


Your attorney will gather evidence, file a lawsuit, and represent you in court. Understanding this process can become less intimidating and ensure you’re adequately prepared.


Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers


Nursing home neglect and abuse are serious issues that require immediate and informed action. By understanding the signs, knowing your loved one’s rights, and working with specialized attorneys, you can protect those who matter most. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance. The dedicated team of Ohio nursing home abuse attorneys at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault is here to help. Together, we can ensure our elderly loved ones receive the care and respect they deserve.

Call Your local nursing home neglect attorneys at 419-843-6663 to get started, or use our easy online contact form today.

If you reside in or around any of the areas we serve in Ohio and Michigan—Maumee, Defiance, Fremont, Findlay, Lima, Mansfield, Toledo, and Monroe—and are searching for a “nursing home neglect attorney near me,” you can count on having one of our attorneys from Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault nursing home abuse law firm represent you in a personal injury or wrongful death case. With a local personal injury attorney near you, help is just a phone call away.


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