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Preventing and Addressing Elder Abuses

We want to protect our loved ones. If we’ve entrusted their well-being to others at a nursing home or an assisted living facility, we should feel confident that they are receiving the best possible care. Unfortunately, that level of trust does not always meet expectations and can even possibly result in abuse.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), which is a resource center funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, elder mistreatment is “intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.” The NCEA notes, “Unfortunately, we simply do not know for certain how many people are suffering from elder abuse and neglect.

It appears that female elders are abused at a higher rate than males and that the older one is, the more likely one is to be abused.” Examples of strategies that the NCEA sites for the prevention of elder abuses include: utilizing abuse registries and criminal background checks (the site provides links); addressing ageism; leveraging advanced planning tools, such as advance directives, living wills, and limited power of attorney for both health care and finance; and advancing public awareness.

The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “improve the quality of life for older Philadelphians or people with disabilities and to assist them in achieving their maximum level of health, independence, and productivity.” PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services Department “provides the resources for intervening when an older adult is abused, abandoned, neglected or financially exploited. The department investigates approximately 2,000 reports of abuse and neglect annually.” It assists with detecting, preventing, reducing, and eliminating the following:

  • Self-neglect
  • Neglect by a caregiver
  • Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse
  • Misuse of the older adult’s money or personal property
  • Abandonment

Preventing Elder Abuse

Preventing elder abuse requires a proactive approach:

  1. Utilize Abuse Registries and Criminal Background Checks:
    Ensure that caregivers have undergone thorough background checks.
  2. Address Ageism:
    Promote respect for elders and educate the community about the value and dignity of older adults.
  3. Advanced Planning Tools:
    Encourage the use of advance directives, living wills, and limited power of attorney for both healthcare and finance.
  4. Public Awareness:
    Increase public awareness about elder abuse and how to recognize and report it.

Addressing Elder Abuse

If you, a family member, or a friend is the victim of elder abuse, including mistreatment in a nursing home, the situation should be immediately addressed:

  1. Tell Your Family Member:
    Ensure the victim is aware of the situation and feels supported.
  2. Report the Abuse:
    Contact state authorities to report the abuse. Each state has different procedures, so it is essential to find out the correct reporting method.
  3. Seek Legal Help:
    Contact a law firm experienced in handling elder abuse cases, such as Gay Chacker & Ginsburg.

“Nursing abuse can take many forms,” said Bruce Ginsburg Esq. of Gay Chacker & Ginsburg in Philadelphia, PA. “It can be the simple act of actually tormenting or injuring a patient. If this occurs, first tell your family member. Then, call the state and find out how to report it. Then call our firm.

“Our view is that the negligence of a nursing home staff and its corporate owners is more than that,” Ginsburg continued. “Our firm views abuse as also including dropping a patient and causing a fracture; failing to provide proper medical care and medication; not rotating a client in bed to the extent that bedsores progress to the need for surgery; or letting a patient walk around when the patient, particularly at night, should not be mobile. This often leads to falls that cause fractures needing surgery, or death.”

Case Example:

Pennsylvania courts have a history of prosecuting elder abuse when reported. For example, in one highly publicized case in Seaford, PA, a certified nursing assistant was found guilty of abusing an 89-year-old woman who was in her care at a nursing home. She was convicted of patient abuse and mistreatment of an impaired adult after she allegedly placed a trash bag over the patient’s head while she sat in her wheelchair. During a six-month probation period, the nursing assistant is not allowed to work in a facility that provides care to the elderly. Also, the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services has been notified about the verdict, and for a minimum of five years, she can be barred from working in a facility that receives federal health care funds.

Contact Gay Chacker & Ginsburg

To discuss cases of elder abuse or any other personal injury representation, contact Gay Chacker & Ginsburg. Our firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of the elderly and ensuring they receive the care and respect they deserve. We handle cases involving elderly falls, pressure ulcers, improper medical management, and other forms of nursing home abuse. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the legal process, advocate for your loved ones, and help secure the justice and compensation they deserve. Call us at 215-567-7955 to learn more about how we can help you.

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