If you have an elderly loved one who is in a nursing home or other long-term care (LTC) facility, you probably worry about the level of care and compassion your loved one is receiving. It is difficult not to worry given the daily barrage of news stories about elder abuse and neglect across the country.
For example, a Georgia woman was recently charged with two counts of simple battery and two counts of exploitation of an elderly person, according to news reports. Sadly, the alleged abuse in that story is hardly unique. On the contrary, elder abuse occurs every day across the United States.
According to an ABC News affiliate, Carolyn Edwards was recently charged with two counts of simple battery and two counts of exploitation of an elderly person that allegedly occurred in Moultrie, Georgia. The victim was an 87-year-old patient at Pruitthealth at Magnolia Manor in Moultrie.
The news report did not make it clear if the accused was the victim’s caretaker at the facility. Unfortunately, the allegations against Edwards are hardly an exception to the rule anymore in the United States.
According to Elaine Wilson, a Certified State Ombudsman, “It’s a real problem, a serious problem, in the state of Georgia and it’s something we’ve been trying for years to bring to the forefront of people who can actually help us do something about it.” She said that elderly abuse and neglect occur every day and often go unnoticed. Wilson said, “Sadly, some things do happen in long-term care settings, it shouldn’t happen in any setting but the individuals that are most at risk at the ones living in the community at large because there is no watchful oversight in many cases.”
The State of Georgia, like most states, has enacted new laws in recent years that make crimes against the elderly separate offenses. Additional laws have been passed in an effort to combat the epidemic of elder abuse and neglect that seems to be occurring in the U.S.
For example, stiffer penalties were put in place for physical, mental or financial abuse or cruelty to people over age 65 and the handicapped in 2013. At the same time, victims were given the right to testify by video recording, making it easier for elderly and disabled victims to testify. Prior to the video testimony law being enacted, perpetrators could often count on the inability of a victim to physically or emotionally handle the stress of testifying in person.
In 2016, a law was also passed that created a nurse aid registry for all Certified Nursing Assistants. Wilson said, “It’s sad that we need laws on top of laws on top of laws but sometimes it’s necessary.” Wilson said she trains all workers at home care facilities in South Georgia to speak up when they see something happen. “People may know, it’s those who know the difference and know right from wrong and those who for whatever ever reason choose to take the wrong path,” said Wilson.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse or Neglect?
If you suspect that an older loved one is the victim of elder abuse or neglect, the first thing you should do is try to talk to them about the situation. Elderly victims are often reluctant to admit they have been victimized because they feel ashamed or they fear reprisals from the abuser.
You should also report your concerns to management if your loved one is in a LTC facility or to a supervisor if your loved one receives in-home care. Making an official report to the authorities is also a good idea because elder abuse is a criminal offense in Georgia.
Finally, another good idea is to consult with an experienced Georgia elder law attorney. Elder abuse or neglect can also form the basis for a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator or the facility that allowed the abuse/neglect to occur.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding potential abuse or neglect of an elderly loved one, contact the experienced Georgia elder law attorneys at Fouts Law Group, LLC by calling (678) 242-8344 to schedule an appointment.
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