Everyone needs to plan for their twilight years and the possibility of needing long-term care either at home or in a dedicated facility. Unfortunately, as our New York elder law attorney explains, not all nursing homes are created equally, and sometimes family caregivers aren’t up to the task. The sad fact is that the elderly population is an easy target for abusers. That’s why you need to know the warning signs and take action quickly if anything seems out of the ordinary.
Types of Elder Abuse to Watch Out For in New York
Older New Yorkers are already more vulnerable to scammers and can face age-related employment or housing discrimination. On top of those issues, physical or mental disabilities that develop through aging can make it difficult to resist or report acts of abuse such as:
- Slapping or spanking
- Sexual abuse
- Failing to provide food, medication, or basic cleaning
- Confining in enclosed spaces or locking in a bedroom
- Refusing to call 911 or take the patient to receive medical care when needed
- Tying to a wheelchair or bed for extended periods
These types of neglect and outright physical abuse can have even more devastating repercussions than normal as the effects of a global pandemic continue to be felt in New York. The possibility of elder abuse occurring to a beloved parent or grandparent is of particular concern as many family members are separated due to COVID-19 restrictions and need to help from a distance.
While physical acts of violence from frustrated caregivers or negligent medical staff are a serious concern, they aren’t the only forms of abuse that can affect elderly patients. Because of their perceived vulnerability, senior citizens are frequently targets of additional forms of mistreatment.
Financial scams are especially prevalent, as elderly patients with serious disabilities may not be aware of their monetary situation or have the ability to regularly check their accounts. Besides physical assault or purposeful neglect, family members and friends should also be on the lookout for signs of:
- Complete abandonment
- Financial abuse or exploitation, such as taking more than needed from the ATM or frequent withdrawals from bank accounts
- Health care fraud like overcharging, performing unnecessary care, or charging for care that wasn’t received
- Psychological and emotional abuse
Talk to an Elder Law Professional If You Suspect Abuse
There are common symptoms that should prompt you to take action quickly, whether you suspect your loved one is being abused by a family member, nursing staff, or even another elderly resident at a facility. Remain vigilant and watch for serious warning signs like:
- Bedsores or other preventable injuries involving daily care
- Bruises and cuts
- Changes in behavior and mood
- Reluctance to see a doctor about injuries
- Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or other financial issues when money should be available
- Unpleasant smells and overall lack of cleanliness
If you notice these symptoms and think someone is harming your loved one through neglect or intentional abuse, contact an elder law attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can provide access to resources like adult protective services as well as advice on how to proceed next. Your lawyer may recommend steps such as reporting to authorities or moving your loved one to a different location.
Legal action may also be necessary if the abuser is your loved one’s primary caregiver or if they have legal authority such as a power of attorney or conservatorship. An experienced lawyer can help in these difficult situations. You may need to file a lawsuit against the person or negligent institution that allowed the abuse to occur, both to seek compensation and to hold the abuser responsible for their actions.