Tell-Tale Signs That Your Loved One Is Being Exploited or Abused and What To Do About It
Elderly abuse continues to be a problem in the United States. And since the recession of 2008, the resources needed to protect the elderly and enforce the law on the books have, at best, been strained if not altogether diminished.
This is where the legal community, specifically personal injury attorneys can step in and help.
The Law on Elderly Abuse.
Recently, trying to make somewhat of an effort toward combatting elder abuse, Colorado passed a mandatory elderly abuse reporting statute that requires certain professionals to report elderly abuse or exploitation if they observe it, if they have reasonable cause to believe abuse or exploitation has occurred, or they believe that abuse or exploitation is imminent. And they have to report as much within 24 hours to law enforcement.
Now, in theory, this sounds nice. It’s politically expedient. And, surely, it’s better than nothing, right?
The Criminal Law Doesn’t Always Provide the Answer.
Well, hold on a second. What does “reasonable cause” mean? What does “imminent” mean? This is a lot of squishy legal language that, in reality, any criminal defense lawyer worth her salt could tear apart fairly easily. Furthermore, even if a person is found to have violated this statute, it’s only a class 3 misdemeanor which carries a maximum of 6 months in jail and/or a $750.00 fine.
Needless to say, the incentives to comply with the criminal statute are not there which leaves persons affected by elderly abuse with only one option: sue the offending party.
Under Colorado law, attorneys can assert various theories of liability including assault, battery, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, etc.
However, like all civil suits, these cases can be difficult to bring and it’s almost always necessary to have an attorney and at least one expert to assist you building a claim against the offending party.
Elderly abuse and exploitation comes in all forms: physical, emotional, sexual, financial. But elderly abuse can also be difficult to detect, especially if the person being abused or neglected is suffering from dementia or cannot otherwise effectively communicate.
Signs of Elderly Abuse.
According to HelpGuide.org, you should be on the lookout for the following signs that your elderly loved one may be suffering abuse or exploitation:
- Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person
- Changes in personality or behavior in the elder
- Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on two side of the body
- Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
- Report of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should)
- Broken eyeglasses or frames
- Signs of being restrained, such as carpet-burn-looking marks on wrists
- A caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the elder alone
- Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver behavior that you witness
- Behavior from the elder that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to oneself
- Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
- Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores
- Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes
- Being left dirty or unbathed
- Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather
- Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards)
- Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts
- Sudden changes in the elder’s financial condition
- Items or cash missing from the senior’s household
- Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies
- Addition of names to the senior’s signature card
- Unpaid bills or lack of medical care, although the elder has enough money to pay for them
- Financial activity the senior couldn’t have done, such as an ATM withdrawal when the account holder is bedridden
- Unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions
- Duplicate billings for the same medical service or device
- Evidence of overmedication or under medication
- Evidence of inadequate care when bills are paid in full
- Problems with the care facility: poorly trained, poorly paid, or insufficient staff; crowding; inadequate responses to questions about care
Hire an Experienced Elderly Abuse Attorney Today.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused or exploited, call Denver personal injury attorney Jeffry Dougan at 303-704-1222 and schedule your FREE initial consultation. You and your loved one will be glad that you did.