As we age, so do our parents and other older loved ones. At some point, your older loved ones will likely need more care than you can provide on a daily basis. That means entrusting the care of your loved one to a stranger. Understandably, you may be reluctant to trust anyone else to care for your loved one, particularly given the number of horror stories we hear on an almost daily basis about nursing home neglect and elder abuse. Sadly, it is often family members who are the perpetrators of elder abuse and neglect, meaning you can’t let your guard down even if your loved one is being cared for by a relative. To help you protect your loved one, the attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP have prepared some tips you may find useful.
Elder Abuse and Neglect Facts and Figures
If you are concerned about the possibility that your parent, or other older loved one, is at risk for becoming a victim of elder abuse and neglect, your probably have good reason to be. The facts and figures relating to elder abuse and neglect in the United States are nothing short of shameful – and most experts agree that these figures are probably just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
- Over 2 million older Americans will be the victim of elder abuse in a given year.
- Over 5 million older Americans will be the victim of financial exploitation in a given year.
- At least 1 in every 10 older Americans will suffer some type of elder abuse
- Between 1999 and 2001, almost one-third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could cause harm, or that did harm elderly residents of those facilities;
- Nearly 10% of those homes had violations that posed a risk of serious injury or death, or that did cause deaths of elderly residents;
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients;
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
Tips to Help Keep Your Older Loved One Safe
Keeping an elderly loved one from becoming the victim of elder abuse and/or neglect often comes down to vigilance. The following tips, however, will help you keep your loved one safe:
- Talk to your loved one. Elderly victims often fail to report abuse or neglect because they are ashamed to be a victim or because they fear reprisals from the abuser. Have a long heart to heart with your loved one and encourage him/her to confide in you if anything occurs.
- Research nursing homes and in-home care providers. Always do considerable research before choosing a nursing home or an in-home care provider.
- Check for violations and complaints. Check with the Illinois Department of Public Health for complaints and violations.
- Conduct interviews and visits before making a decision. Choosing a care provider is a big decision. Spend as much time as is necessary conducting interviews and visits with potential care providers/facilities.
- Show up unannounced. Both before and after choosing a care provider it is always a good idea to show up unannounced on a regular basis. This is the best way to see how things really run when no one is expected to be dropping by.
- Consider petitioning for guardianship. If you think you may need access to financial or medical records, or that you may need to make the decision to change providers, you will need the legal authority to do so. Being the victim’s child or even spouse may not be enough. Petitioning for guardianship may become necessary.
- If you suspect abuse or neglect is occurring, consult with an elder law attorney to find out what legal options you may have.
If you have questions or concerns regarding elder law in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.