Elder abuse has been called an epidemic and is viewed by many as a national crisis, for good reason. As many as five million elders in the United States are abused, neglected, or exploited each year and 90% of these cases are perpetrated by family members or trusted advisors. The National Center of Elder Abuse has said that only one of every 14 cases of elder abuse is reported, while others put the number as high as one out of every 23 cases. Criminal elder abuse describes the willful infliction of physical or emotional suffering on an elder. Civil elder abuse includes any physical or financial abuse, neglect or abandonment resulting in physical or mental harm.
If you’re like me, those statistics are simply staggering, and we cannot continue to ignore this problem. But, how can work to stop elder abuse? Well, there are actually a number of ways you can help in the fight to end elder abuse. Here are three ways you can help today.
1. Let your legislators know that you are an advocate for nursing home reform legislation. This would involve sitting down and simply stating your position to your elected official in writing. It is their job to represent the voice of his/her constituents. You can find your legislators here. Let them know that you find the statistics alarming, and that you support measures to help reform the nursing home industry to prevent additional abuse to elders.
2. Report Suspicions. If you suspect an elder is being abused in any capacity, while in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home; report the incident to both the Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman and the California Department of Public Health. You should also consider reporting to Adult Protective Services Agency.
If you suspect an elder is being abused outside of a long-term care facility, such as in a private residence, contact your local Adult Protective Services Agency. The APS provides assistance to adults and elderly who are functionally impaired, and who may be victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. All APS agencies in California have a 24/7 hotline that may be called to report suspected abuse.
3. File Complaints. If you have a complaint about a particular nursing home or residence facility, file a complaint with the Licensing and Certification Department of the Health Services. The Licensing and Certification Department is obligated to begin any investigation within ten days of receipt of them.
If you are interested in getting involved in nursing home reform, a great resource is the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR).
If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder abuse, you deserve quality representation. For a free and confidential consultation with one of San Diego’s highly regarded experts in the field of elder abuse, contact Walton Law APC today.