How to Report Suspected Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
Instances of elder abuse that take place in nursing homes often go unreported. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that only about one out of every 24 cases of elder abuse is reported.
“The World Health Organization estimates that only about one out of every 24 cases of elder abuse is reported.”
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a failure to act or an intentional act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an elderly individual. There are many different forms of elder abuse. Types of elder abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
Everyone with a loved one in a nursing home should understand and be able to recognize warning signs that may indicate abuse. Taking action quickly to help the elderly victim and report the suspected abuse may save not only their life but also the lives of others.
If you suspect senior abuse is occurring to a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
- Unexplained infections or illness
- Change in behavior
- Symptoms of depression or anxiety
- Bruises or other physical injuries that occur without a reasonable explanation
- Bed sores
- Unusual financial transactions
If you notice any of the above warning signs, it could be helpful to start documenting your observations and taking pictures, if applicable.
Why It Is Important to Report Suspected Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
When you are concerned that someone living in a nursing home is experiencing senior abuse of any form, it is crucial to report the abuse so that the elderly individual no longer has to suffer. It is always better to play it safe and report your suspicions than to wait and allow the old age abuse to continue.
Many nursing home residents who are suffering from abuse are unwilling to speak up, whether it be because of shame, fear of retaliation, or mental or physical impairment. For these individuals, a family member or friend who is stepping in to report their suspicion of abuse can help remove them from the dangerous situation and may even save their lives.
How to Report Suspected Elder Abuse
Once you have decided it is time to report your suspicions, the next step is to decide who you should report the abuse to. There are a few different options to choose from when reporting senior abuse.
Adult Protective Services
One option you can choose is to report the abuse to Adult Protective Services. Arizona Adult Protective Services is a program in the DES Division of Aging and Adult Services. This agency handles investigations of allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. You can file a report by phone or online using their official website.
Local Police or Law Enforcement
You can also report instances of suspected abuse to your local police department or law enforcement officer. If you are worried that your loved one is in immediate danger, it is a good idea to report your concerns to local law enforcement.
“Many nursing home residents who are suffering from abuse are unwilling to speak up, whether it be because of shame, fear of retaliation, or mental or physical impairment.”
The police are able to help you take action right away in abuse or neglect cases where the elderly person has been severely harmed or if their life is in immediate danger. In these situations, law enforcement may file criminal charges for assault, battery, harassment, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and financial exploitation, depending on the facts of the case.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
When you suspect that elder abuse is occurring in a nursing home, it may be a good idea to report your concerns to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. This program’s main purpose is to identify, investigate, and resolve any complaints made by residents of nursing homes or are made on their behalf.
After an allegation of abuse has been reported, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program will investigate the complaint and make an effort to advocate, assist, and intervene where necessary on behalf of the nursing home resident. If you report an instance of abuse to this program, it will maintain your confidentiality, and it will also respect the resident’s wishes regarding complaint resolution.
The Arizona Nursing Home Elder Abuse Attorneys of Goodnow McKay
The attorneys of Goodnow McKay have many years of experience successfully handling cases involving elder abuse in nursing homes. Our firm fights aggressively to achieve successful results for our clients who have suffered from elder abuse and for their families.
Over the years, our attorneys have developed strong advocacy skills in the area of elder abuse law, and we are here to help you fight for compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys so that we can help you move forward with your nursing home elder abuse case and assist you in getting justice in the form of a fair settlement.