Posted in Elder Abuse on August 30, 2021
Elder abuse is a terrible crime that risks the welfare of one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, elder abuse is much more common than most people realize. According to data from the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in every 10 seniors over the age of 60 experience elder abuse. The Elder Abuse Suspicion Index is an important part of the effort to try to identify and reduce incidents of elder abuse in the United States.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse occurs when someone in a position of power over a senior citizen takes advantage of this power to intentionally harm a victim. For example, a staff member at a nursing home may abuse a vulnerable elderly resident physically, verbally or emotionally. Other types of elder abuse are neglect, abandonment, mental or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation. Elder abuse is a heinous crime that can have serious consequences for a victim, including debilitating physical injuries and an overall decline in health.
The underreporting of elder abuse is a significant problem. Elderly victims often do not come forward to report abuse themselves. This may be due to the physical inability to communicate, the mental incapacity to understand what is happening, fear of not being believed by others or fear of retaliation by the abuser. The National Council on Aging reports that just 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse are reported to the authorities. A system that was created to improve reporting rates is the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI).
What Is EASI?
The Elder Abuse Suspicion Index is a list of six questions created to help medical professionals who work with senior citizens identify elder abuse and report it faster. The EASI questions are given directly to senior citizens in hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term living facilities. With help from the attending medical professional, the EASI questions can help identify potential cases of elder abuse or exploitation. The questions are as follows:
Within the last 12 months:
- Have you relied on someone else for bathing, dressing, shopping, banking and/or meals?
- Has anyone prevented you from obtaining medical care, medications, glasses, hearing aids, food or clothing or seeing your loved ones?
- Have you felt upset because someone treated or talked to you in a way that made you feel shamed or threatened?
- Has anyone tried to force you to sign anything or use your money in a way that you did not want to?
- Has anyone hurt you physically, touched you in a way that was unwelcome or made you feel afraid?
- For the doctor – did you notice any of these today or in the last 12 months: withdrawal or isolation, malnourishment, lack of eye contact, poor hygiene, cuts or bruises, inappropriate clothing, or failure to comply with medications?
The recipient of the questionnaire should answer yes or no to these questions. After all six have been asked, a response of “yes” on one or more of questions two through six should raise a red flag for potential elder abuse and warrant further evaluation by experienced professionals, such as adult protective services. A study of the EASI questionnaire concluded that 97.2 percent of health care professionals found that the assessment would impact their practice for these cases.
What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse in Omaha, NE
If you suspect any form of elder abuse as a health care professional, nursing home staff member, or friend or loved one of a senior citizen, take immediate steps to protect the victim. Remove the individual from the care of the alleged abuser and take him or her to a safe place. Report your suspicions to the proper authorities, including the police, management at a nursing home or hospital, and adult protective services. Then, contact an elder abuse attorney in Omaha to discuss the senior citizen’s legal rights.
Posted in Elder Abuse on June 8, 2020
Elder abuse is a crime as well as a civil tort. Someone guilty of committing elder abuse could face both criminal and civil liability for the victim’s injuries and damages. As the injured senior citizen or a family member, you may have the right to bring a civil claim against a perpetrator for elder abuse in Nebraska. An Omaha elder abuse attorney can help you navigate key laws that may affect your claim, including the statute of limitations.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
All criminal and civil actions in Nebraska have statutes of limitations: legally mandated deadlines. Statutes of limitations push for prompt action by plaintiffs. They force people to come forward with their claims as soon as possible, reducing the risk of losing important evidence on the plaintiff or defendant’s side. The courts in Nebraska are strict with their statutes of limitations. It is very important to file an elder abuse claim before your deadline. Otherwise, the chances are high that the court in your county will refuse to let you bring your case.
How Long Do You Have to File an Elder Abuse Claim?
The statute of limitations on your claim can depend on factors such as the type of lawsuit, the date of discovery of abuse or injury, and the identity of the defendant. Contact an elder abuse attorney right away to reduce the risk of missing your deadline. As soon as you notice signs of abuse, take your loved one out of the nursing home or care facility. Report your suspicions to the police. Then, contact a lawyer for a free discussion about whether you can bring a civil claim.
- Personal injury claim. Four years. If your family is filing a civil tort claim against the nursing home or another party for abusing or neglecting your elderly loved one, you will generally have four years from the date of the last known incident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Assault and battery claim. One year. If the alleged abuse meets Nebraska’s definition of assault and battery, you may only have one year to bring a civil claim against the perpetrator. The crime of assault is recklessly or intentionally causing bodily injury to someone else or to threaten a victim menacingly.
- Wrongful death claim. Two years. Your family has two years from the date of your elderly loved one’s death to bring a claim for wrongful death in Nebraska. Wrongful death is the taking of a life intentionally, negligently or recklessly.
- Claim against the government. One year. If the entity allegedly at fault for your loved one’s abuse or injuries is a government agency, such as the City of Omaha, you will only have one year to submit a written claim to damages.
You may qualify for an exception to the general statute of limitations depending on the circumstances of your case. A common exception to the statute of limitations in Nebraska is the discovery rule. This rule states that if you or your loved one does not discover the injuries until later, the clock will not start counting down until the date of discovery. An elder abuse attorney in Omaha can let you know your exact deadline to file a claim during a free initial consultation.
What If You Miss Your Deadline?
It is up to you as a victim or family member of a victim to bring a civil claim by the deadline. Unlike a criminal case for elder abuse, city prosecutors will not bring a civil claim to damages for you. Personal injury plaintiffs are responsible for filing their claims. Waiting too long to file could lead to the automatic rejection of your claim by the courthouse in charge of deciding your case. The courts are strict in keeping statutes of limitations, with rare exceptions for minors and some other cases. Contact an elder abuse lawyer near you right away to reduce the chances of missing your statute of limitations.
Posted in Elder Abuse on April 14, 2020
Elder abuse is a terrible crime that affects tens of thousands of senior citizens around the US. It refers to the intentional harming of an elderly individual (someone 65 or older). Elder abuse can affect a victim physically, emotionally, mentally and/or financially. Elder abuse can present itself in many ways. One is the physical neglect of an elderly person in someone else’s care, such as malnourishment, unattended injuries, infections and pressure ulcers.
What Are Pressure Ulcers?
Pressure ulcers, commonly known as bedsores, are skin injuries that can affect underlying tissues – sometimes going as deep as the bone. They can develop due to prolonged pressure or friction on one part of the body. This can interrupt the flow of blood to the body part, making the skin more vulnerable to damage and injuries. This can be enough to cause an ulcer, or painful sore, on the skin.
Pressure ulcers can be painful and lead to life-threatening health problems. Depending on the stage a caregiver allows the bedsore to progress, it could affect the deep tissues of the body, including the muscles and cartilage. It could ultimately lead to health complications such as cellulitis, bone infections, joint infections, sepsis and a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. It is a caregiver’s responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent pressure ulcers, as well as to properly tend to them if they develop.
How Are Pressure Ulcers Prevented?
Pressure ulcers are almost always preventable. This specific type of ulcer only arises from persistent pressure, friction or shearing on one part of the body. They are most common in places that typically connect with the most pressure on a bed or wheelchair, such as the sit bones, sacrum, hips, heels, spine, shoulder blades and the back of the skull. Health care workers, nursing home employees and official caregivers should know about bedsores and how to reasonably prevent them in residents who are bedridden or confined to wheelchairs.
Most facilities that care for people at risk of developing pressure ulcers, including the elderly and people with mobility limitations, have protocols in place to prevent bedsores. These protocols can include implementing schedules of when caregivers should turn over or exercise residents or patients to keep blood flowing evenly. Providing proper nourishment and hydration can also help prevent pressure ulcers by keeping the skin strong and healthy. Keeping an elderly person clean is also important, as this can prevent the skin from staying wet for long periods – something that can increase the risk of skin tears, sores and infections.
When Should You File an Elder Abuse Claim?
Although pressure ulcers do not automatically mean the patient or nursing home resident is suffering from elder abuse, it is a red flag. The bedsore might have developed due to physical abuse or neglect. Neglect is more common, as bringing an elder abuse claim takes proving the offender intentionally meant to injure or harm your loved one. An injury claim based on negligence, however, could match your loved one’s situation. You might have grounds for a negligence claim if you believe someone neglected to properly care for your loved one, leading to the development of the pressure ulcer.
Nursing home neglect can take many forms, including allowing bedsores, pressure ulcers or infections to form. Hire an elder abuse lawyer to help your family establish that a reasonable and prudent facility or staff member would have prevented the pressure ulcer. The courts may grant your loved one a financial award if your lawyer can fulfill this burden of proof. The failure to provide a reasonable level of care to an elderly individual could mean payment for related medical bills, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, and wrongful death. Speak to a Omaha elder abuse lawyer today about a potential elder abuse or neglect claim if you or a loved one has a pressure ulcer.
Elder abuse is a crime that can cause victims severe physical pain and emotional turmoil. Elder abuse and neglect can lead to serious personal injuries, declines in physical health, changes to mental health status and wrongful death. As the loved one of an elderly person in someone else’s care, such as a nursing home or caregiver in Omaha, pay attention to potential signs of elder abuse. Even if the caregiver is someone you trust, you cannot be too vigilant about preventing abuse.
Unusual or Unexplained Physical Injuries
Physical elder abuse can refer to acts of assault such as punching or kicking senior citizens. It can also refer to the improper use of restraints. The elderly are naturally more prone to injuries, which can make it difficult to spot physical abuse. It may not be out of the ordinary, for example, to hear your loved one fell and fractured his or her hip. If a physical injury comes with other signs of abuse, however, such as poor sanitation or behavioral changes, it could be a red flag.
- Strap marks
- Bite marks
- Slap marks
- Serious bruises
- Injuries to the torso or other covered areas
- Broken bones
Physical neglect is also a significant risk for seniors. Watch for signs of neglect when you visit your loved one, such as wounds that have not been cared for, unkempt appearance, dirty clothes, unchanged adult diapers, infections, dangerous premises or bedsores. Neglecting elder care can lead to a decrease in health and emotional wellness. Ask the nursing home about recent injuries. If the injuries do not appear to match the explanation or your loved one takes frequent trips to the hospital, it could be elder abuse. Get your loved one to a safe location and call the police.
Not all forms of elder abuse are physical. Someone could also abuse an elderly individual mentally, emotionally or psychologically. Someone in a position of power could berate, yell at, humiliate, threaten, intimidate or isolate a senior citizen to intentionally cause harm or emotional distress. A perpetrator can use psychological abuse alone or in conjunction with other forms of abuse. The signs of mental elder abuse may not be as easy to identify as physical abuse.
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Feelings of guilt, shame or fear
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety, especially around certain caregivers
- Withdrawal from favorite activities
- Social isolation
- Confusion or cognitive difficulties
- Anger or emotional outbursts
- Nightmares, PTSD or trouble sleeping
- Expressing the desire to leave the nursing home
Talk to your loved one regularly to get to know his or her typical moods, behaviors and actions. If you spot any changes without reason, investigate further for potential elder abuse. Someone could be taking advantage of your loved one or harassing him or her for personal gain. Detecting emotional abuse early could help your loved one avoid long-lasting psychological repercussions. If your loved one tries to talk to you about abuse, listen and explain that you believe him or her.
Another form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. Elder financial exploitation or abuse is the stealing of an elderly person’s money or assets, either through direct theft, manipulation, coercion, fraud or force. Financial abuse robs victims of millions of dollars each year. Someone trustworthy should be in charge of or at least supervise an elderly family member’s bank accounts, trusts and savings to help prevent abuse.
Keep an eye on your family member’s accounts and watch for unusual withdrawals, checks or bank activity. Warn your loved one not to believe the internet or phone scams and not to write blank checks to anyone. It is often up to family members to detect signs of elder abuse since victims rarely come forward on their own. If you notice signs of financial exploitation or another form of elder abuse, call your local adult protective services to report a possible crime. Then, speak to an Omaha elder abuse attorney about filing an elder abuse claim.
Posted in Elder Abuse on August 23, 2019
Elder abuse is a crime against one of the most vulnerable populations: the elderly. Elder abuse is a significant problem that often flies under the radar due to underreporting. In many cases, it is not the victim that comes forward, but a family member that notices signs of abuse and alerts an Omaha elder abuse attorney or law enforcement. Some estimates place the rate of elder abuse at 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 60, while others say up to 5 million elders face abuse each year. Most studies agree, however, that available statistics are likely low due to the number of cases that go unreported.
The four types of elder abuse are physical, emotional, financial and sexual. Many victims suffer multiple types of abuse simultaneously. A perpetrator may put an elder through physical abuse, for example, to execute a financial exploitation scheme. Noticing signs of physical abuse early could prevent serious injuries or permanent declines in mental status.
- Unexplained injuries
- Frequent visits to the hospital
- Bruises or slap marks
- Fall-related injuries
- An overall decline in health
Look for signs of physical abuse in places people do not usually see. People who commit elder abuse may try to get away with it by harming senior citizens in places that are not usually visible. Also look for physical signs of elder neglect, such as malnutrition, dehydration, poor sanitation, infections, and bedsores. Staying alert to the common signs of physical abuse could save a life. Police intervention could stop physical abuse before it permanently impacts the elderly victim’s life.
Emotional abuse can be more difficult to catch due to a lack of physical signs. Spending time with your elderly loved one could help you spot the subtler signs of emotional or mental abuse, such as changes in personality or loss of interest in social activities.
- Mood swings
- Shame or guilt
- Fear of certain people
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Ask your loved one about changes in his or her mood, behaviors, social life or mental wellness. If you see or hear anything that gives you cause for concern, ask the caregiver or nursing home about potential emotional or mental abuse.
Keep an eye on your elderly loved one’s finances to help prevent financial exploitation. Criminals and fraudsters often target the elderly for their vulnerability, high assets, and susceptibility to scams. Caregivers and close relatives are common perpetrators in elder financial abuse schemes.
- Unusual bank activity
- Forged or missing checks
- Checks made out to cash
- Last-minute will updates
- Plummeting bank account
- Lost high-value assets such as jewelry
- Generous gifts to acquaintances or strangers
- Poor financial decisions
Help a senior citizen in your life take care of tasks such as hiring contractors, finding honest financial advisors and handling bank accounts to help prevent financial abuse. Teach your loved one not to trust over-the-phone salespeople, callers who say they work for the IRS or emails about winning the lottery. Have your relative run financial decisions by you first to make sure no one is taking advantage of him or her.
A nursing home with negligent staff members and/or low security could present many opportunities for a crime such as sexual abuse. Ask your elderly loved one about sexual abuse. Take accusations seriously. If you notice potential signs of sexual abuse, involve the police to protect the elderly person.
- Genital injuries
- Bloody undergarments
- Bruising on the upper thighs
- Trouble walking or sitting
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Behavioral changes
Contact an Omaha Elder Abuse Lawyer
Abuse could occur in a nursing home setting or the perpetrator could be a close family friend or relative. The four types of abuse may not only show physical signs but also emotional. Your loved one could experience significant mental detriment because of the abuse. Report signs of any type of elder abuse to the long-term care facility and the police. Then, remove your loved one to a safe location while you contact an elder abuse attorney for assistance.