How to Handle an Elder Neglect Case
It can be devastating to learn that your elderly loved one has been neglected by a caregiver or the facility that they reside in. You have put your trust into these people and agencies to ensure your family member receives the special attention they need in their later years. Anyone working with the elderly has a responsibility to deliver a certain standard of care. If you suspect that a caregiver or facility has neglected to perform this duty, you may need a knowledgeable elder abuse lawyer on your side to prevent the facility or caregiver from harming anyone else.
What Is Elder Neglect?
When a senior individual is neglected, their needs are overlooked or blatantly disregarded by the parties who are responsible for them. This often leads to them being put in precarious situations that ultimately threaten their overall health and emotional well-being.
Types of Elder Neglect
There are several different types of elder neglect that an individual might experience.
This involves a caregiver or agency not properly tending to a senior’s medical, nutritional, and basic hygiene needs such as:
- Dispensing medications as prescribed
- Bathing, dressing, and grooming
- Regularly changing bandages
- Providing enough food to meet dietary needs
Failure to provide for the physical needs of an elderly person can result in life-threatening consequences, such as poor health, malnutrition, bed sores, infections, and even death.
Emotional neglect happens when a person is intentionally ignored or ridiculed by others. They may be kept away from other residents or have limited contact with their visitors. This type of neglect can cause severe emotional distress for the senior. They may experience feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or worthlessness. They might withdraw from their friends and family members for fear of further disparagement.
When a senior is left alone without a plan for their care in place, this is considered a type of neglect called abandonment. An elderly person who has been abandoned may be unable to tend to their basic needs, resulting in dreadful consequences that could have been avoided had the responsible party arranged for proper care.
This type of neglect occurs when an individual has disregarded the financial obligations of another. Their bank accounts, credit cards, Social Security benefits, or retirement accounts may be misused—leaving the senior without the funds that they need to pay for monthly expenses like housing, utilities, property taxes, medical insurance, and more. This is also considered theft and could have major repercussions for the one responsible.
Signs to Look For
It’s not always easy to spot elder neglect at first, especially if your loved one is too afraid of what might happen if they decide to speak out against the abuser. Here are some common signs that can help you identify when elder neglect is taking place:
- Experiencing rapid, unexplained weight loss
- Appearing detached when visiting with close friends and family members
- Acting confused during interactions
- Wearing dirty, soiled, or disheveled clothes
- Blaming themselves for problems that aren’t their fault
- Refusing visitors
- Showing signs of depression
- Declining interest in personal hygiene
If your elderly loved one is exhibiting one or more of these signs, it’s important to take notice and consider what could be causing them. Reach out to their caregivers to see what might have changed since you last visited. If you can’t find a suitable explanation, it should be a red flag that something isn’t right, and you’ll need to take further action to ensure the health and safety of your loved one.
What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
If you think that your loved one is being abused, the first thing that you’ll need to do is to report it to the proper authorities. You can go to the facility administrator to file a report, or you can call the police directly if you feel that the administrator has failed to respond appropriately in cases of repeated incidents. You will be able to detail the neglect in a written statement. Be sure to get a copy of this document for your own records. This will help your lawyer should you decide to pursue further action on the behalf of your loved one.
Next, you will want to collect as much evidence as possible that 1) the neglect has occurred and 2) your loved one was harmed as a result of that carelessness. The types of evidence that you should gather include:
- Statements from any witnesses to the neglect
- Doctor’s reports detailing a decline in physical, dental, or mental health
- Financial statements in the case of financial abuse or neglect
- Previous written complaints regarding quality of care
- Photographs showing any visible signs of neglect
The more evidence that you have to support your case, the more credibility it will have in court. Bring all of these documents to your first meeting with a Bakersfield elder neglect lawyer. If you have trouble obtaining them yourself, your lawyer can help you get access. With the proper legal measures, you can seek justice for the neglect your loved one has suffered.
Need an Elder Abuse Lawyer in Bakersfield?
Elder abuse is a serious issue that affects 1 in 10 Americansover the age of 60. Yet only 1 in 14 cases are ever reported. The person who was abused or neglected may be too scared of retaliation to speak up. However, a lawyer can help you finally put a stop to the mistreatment and take actions to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else under the facility’s care.
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we help victims of elder abuse and neglect throughout Bakersfield, Kern County, and the surrounding valley. We are committed to defending the rights of vulnerable seniors who have been trusted with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other caregivers. Our goal is to recover the maximum amount of damages our clients are entitled to receive. Contact office today to schedule your free consultation.