Under California’s Elder Abuse Act any elder (age 65 years or elder) or dependent (person being cared for in a facility) is entitled to a recovery if they suffer neglect or abuse. Neglect is defined as the negligent failure of a caretaker or custodian to exercise the degree of care expected of a reasonable person in their position.
It includes but is not limited to:
- The failure to protect from avoidable pressure sores (also referred to as pressure ulcers, bed sores, and decubitus ulcers).
- The failure to protect from avoidable infections including but not limited to sepsis, UTIs, MRSA, and other multi-drug resistant organisms.
- The failure to protect from falls and injuries relating thereto.
- The failure to ensure that patients are properly hydrated and nourished.
- The failure to protect from fecal impaction.
- The failure to protect from injuries inflicted by other residents or facility caregivers.
- The failure to assess and address any changes of condition a patient has while under the facility’s care.
- The failure to adequately rehabilitate.
- The failure to ensure that everything is done to make sure a patient reaches her or his highest level of function.
How to recognize elder abuse
The telltale signs of elder abuse are frequently missed by healthcare professionals and family members. Victims may be reluctant to report abuse out of fear of retaliation, or because they don’t want to get the perpetrators into trouble. They may be unable to report abuse due to cognitive or physical disabilities.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, assisted living facility, memory care center, or any other type of Long Term Care facility for seniors, it’s imperative that you know how to recognize the common indicators of abuse and neglect:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Agitated, anxious, or violent behavior
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained bruises, burns, scars, welts, broken bones, or other injury
- Bed sores or other preventable conditions
- Confusion or disorientation
- Physical or emotional withdrawal.
Physical and mental wellbeing is not the only place to look for signs of elder neglect and abuse. You can also glean information from the behavior of the caregivers. Indicators of caregiver abuse include:
- An angry or indifferent attitude toward the elder
- Imposition of social isolation or restricted activity
- Conflicting accounts between caregivers and other facility staff
- Speaking on behalf of the elder and restricting their freedom to speak.
If you recognize any of these signs next time you visit your loved one, try talking with them to find out what’s going on.
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