How to Prevent Elder Abuse & Neglect

A guide by the San Diego elder abuse attorneys of Berman & Riedel, LLP

Our San Diego elder abuse attorneys are well aware that elder abuse occurs regularly within facilities that are entrusted to provide care for our elderly and dependent loved ones. While many good care facilities exist, other care facilities are plagued with problems because they are run as “profit centers,” where patient care is often overlooked in favor of maximizing the bottom-line.

The first step our California elder abuse lawyers recommend in preventing elder abuse and neglect within care facilities such as Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) and/or Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE), is to be able to recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect. Keep in mind that a nursing home resident or patient may not have obvious signs of abuse such as open bedsores, broken bones, and/or cuts and bruises. Rather, if an elderly resident of a SNF or RCFE is being neglected or abused by their caretakers, the person may demonstrate more subtle changes such as becoming withdrawn and no longer wanting to participate in their favorite activities, or he or she may have a noticeable change in appetite, sleeping habits or demeanor.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other elderly facility and you live close by, our San Diego elder abuse attorneys encourage visiting as often as possible. Take notice of the general hygienic conditions (common areas are clean, residents or patients are dressed in clean clothes, etc.), the dispositions of the residents or patients as well as the caretakers, and the overall “vibe” of the facility (residents or patients seem content and cared-for).

You may not live close enough to visit often, but regular phone calls to the facility to inquire about the condition of your loved one is important. This helps you stay informed about the resident or patient, and it also lets the staff at the facility know that you care enough to make sure your loved one is being treated with dignity and is receiving the care he or she needs.

If you suspect that a patient or resident’s needs are not being met, or if you have concerns about the conditions of the facility and/or the treatment of its residents or patients, you need to be proactive. Before finding a California elder neglect lawyer, try talking to the staff about your concerns, and ask to speak to the facility administrator about what you believe could be signs of elder abuse or neglect, or speak with the person’s physician. Sometimes a facility cannot or will not work with you to resolve problems of abuse or neglect committed against its residents. Under such circumstances, your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office can help provide you with information and could also work with you and the nursing home, Skilled Nursing Care Facility or Residential Care Facility for the Elderly to make everything right, and to protect other residents or patients from becoming victims of elder abuse and neglect.

Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to prevent elder abuse and neglect from continuing in a facility is to file a formal complaint against the facility. This can be done by reporting the situation to the Departement of Health Services (for SNF patients) or the Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing (for RCFE residents).

In instances of abuse or neglect that have resulted in serious injury or even the death of a loved one, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under the law. Contact a San Diego elder neglect attorney at our firm to discuss the circumstances of your case.