Combating Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect

The increasing number of senior citizens in our population has greatly changed the manner in which society views and prepares for the "golden years." With advances in medicine and nutrition, many retired seniors enjoy healthy and fulfilling lifestyles. Sadly, however, some senior citizens become victims of elder abuse.

You may think of elder abuse as physical violence or sexual abuse, but it may take other forms. These include emotional and verbal abuse, neglect, threats, financial fraud, or even invasion of privacy. Financial swindles represent one of the most widespread types of senior abuse. Telemarketing, investment and insurance scams cheat elders out of millions of dollars, often leaving them destitute and homeless.

Nursing homes are supposed to provide care for our frail elders and protect them from harm, yet almost a third of the nursing homes nationwide were cited for abuse violations during a two–year period (see Causes of Nursing Home Abuse). And elders do not always fare better in their own homes. According to one estimate, at least one–half million elders were abused or neglected in a household setting during a one–year period.

In order to protect its aging population, California enacted a series of elder abuse laws designed to empower senior citizens. They allow attorneys to file appropriate lawsuits to stop the abuse and to punish the abuser. The abuse covered by the law includes nursing home abuse and residential care neglect and abuse, and involves both physical abuse and emotional abuse.

Other states have begun to enact protective laws benefiting seniors, generally setting standards for care in nursing homes and establishing ways to better report abuse. In Oregon, for example, various people are required to report elder abuse, including mental health program employees, county health department employees, senior center staff, nursing home employees, outreach workers, doctors and police officers. In most states, elderly victims of abuse and their families may report nursing home neglect by contacting the state attorney general's office or designated state or local agencies, or decide to hire a private attorney. Federal law also establishes standards of care for nursing homes.

Learning More About Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect

Brayton Purcell has created a web site about elder abuse and nursing home abuse that will answer many of your questions about laws effecting seniors and caring for an elderly loved one. Besides including news for seniors, the site discusses how to recognize elder and nursing home abuse, choosing a long–term care facility, pain management, and the legal rights of the elderly.

At Brayton Purcell, we are committed to the zealous advocacy of seniors' rights, including inadequate pain management issues. In a landmark elder abuse case, we won a $1.5 million verdict for the family of an elderly hospital patient who was undermedicated and allowed to die in extreme pain ( Beverly Bergman et al. v. Wing Chin M.D ). We are also experienced in other aspects of elder abuse law, including nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or an elderly relative has been a victim of elder abuse, we can help. There is no fee for the initial consultation, and all communications are held in the utmost confidence (see contact information).

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