Available statistics on elder abuse don’t paint an accurate picture. Many people in Alabama and across the country routinely endure acts of abuse without ever reaching out for help or receiving adequate support. If you have loved ones in a nursing home facility, knowing what to do if you suspect abuse could save someone’s life.
Nursing Home Abuse in Alabama
A recent news report described financial exploitation as one of the biggest elder abuse problems in the state. Individual counties across Alabama handle hundreds of elder abuse reports every year. At least three counties reported as many as 383 claims so far this year, and many professionals still believe these reports only account for around 20% of actual abuse instances.
In Centre, Alabama, early in late 2016, three county health workers faced criminal charges for leaving an elderly, bedridden woman without care for 11 hours. During that time, ants in the facility bit her around 100 times.
Instances of elder abuse and nursing home abuse represent a real and growing threat in our state. Citizens must come together and advocate for our loved ones to change the system. One of the most powerful ways you can hold these negligent and abusive individuals accountable is through a formal lawsuit.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can involve many different behaviors. Financial exploitation, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, insurance fraud, and assault may all fall under the category of nursing home abuse. Many signs and symptoms can indicate abuse. We tell our clients to look for any unusual behaviors or symptoms that are suspicious.
Some of the most visible signs of abuse may include voluntary or involuntary isolation, noting aggressiveness in staff members, unsanitary conditions, the presence of bedsores, noting an unreasonable relationship between a staff member and a patient, or inexplicable bruises, fractures, blood, or cuts. A drastic shift in personality may also indicate emotional abuse.
If you notice these or other changes in anyone at a nursing home or in another caregiving situation, take the following steps:
- Record what you witness. Write down what you see and hear, take pictures, and consider talking to other visitors about their experiences. Many cases of abuse involve multiple patients. Keep track of any financial red flags you notice.
- Report the situation. Use the information you record to talk to authorities about the situation. You may want to talk to facility managers or reach out to an elder abuse hotline to file a formal report. If you suspect patient lives are at risk, call 911 to receive immediate support.
In Alabama, you can call the following organizations:
- The Alabama Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-458-7214
- The Alabama Attorney General’s Victim Assistance Office at 1-800-626-7676
- The local Area Agency on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1-800-243-5463
- Talk to an elder abuse attorney. Elder and nursing home abuse can destroy a person’s quality of life, cause pain and suffering, and/or lead to death. No one should have to endure abuse at the hands of a caretaker. An elder abuse attorney can help you understand your rights under state laws, take steps to protect the abused individual, and help you hold the abuser or abusers accountable.
An abused individual may not want to talk about what happened. You can report your suspicions even if you don’t hear a direct accusation from a patient. Relevant agencies will investigate claims to ensure the safety of all patients residing in a facility. Professionals interacting with a patient bear a duty to report signs of abuse, but individual visitors can also play an important role in stopping and preventing abuse. Use this information to properly advocate for the health and wellness of nursing home patients.