Long-term Care Residents’ Rights Month- “Speak Out Against Elder Abuse”

This month, residents of nursing homes and other long- term care facilities, along with family members, facility staff, and others are honoring the rights of long-term care residents by celebrating Long-Term Care (LTC) Residents’ Rights Month. The theme for LTC Residents’ Rights Month 2013 is, “Speak Out Against Elder Abuse,” with the goal of encouraging residents and others to be educated about and speak out against elder abuse.

Seniors in LTC facilities rely entirely on trusted individuals to help them. Sadly, incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation are often not reported to Adult Protective Services or other authorities. One of the most common reasons is the victim’s fear of losing support.

Elder abuse can come in many forms including physical, verbal or sexual abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. The abuse can occur at the hands of nursing home staff or other residents. Some abuse is obvious, such as hitting a resident. But others are less well-known to the public, such as neglect, false imprisonment, and financial abuse.

The following is a list of indicators of abuse, neglect or exploitation:

Signs of Abuse: 

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, fractures, abrasions or lacerations
  • Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
  • Multiple/repeat injuries
  • Low self-esteem or loss of self determination
  • Withdrawn, passive
  • Fearful
  • Depressed, hopeless
  • Soiled linens or clothing
  • Social Isolation

Signs of Neglect/Self-Neglect: 

  • Dehydration
  • Malnourishment
  • Inappropriate or soiled clothing
  • Odorous
  • Over/under medicated
  • Deserted, abandoned or unattended
  • Lack of medical necessities or assistive devices
  • Unclean environment
  • Social Isolation

Signs of Exploitation:

  • Missing/”disappearing” property
  • Inadequate living environment
  • Frequent/recent property title changes or will changes
  • Excessive home repair bills
  • Forced to sign over control of finances
  • No/limited money for food, clothes and other amenities

Prevention can only occur if there is awareness, the statutes are adhered to, and any suspicions of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults are immediately reported to Adult Protective Services and/or law enforcement.

All states have agencies that take complaints of abuse. In some states failure to report abuse of the elderly is a crime. To contact an abuse complaint department, call your local area agency on aging. To find an area agency on aging in your area go to Long Term Care Link.

At the Fairfax and Fredericksburg Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we help our clients preserve dignity and quality of life and thereby drastically reduce the risk of neglect or abuse. If you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care or if you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), please call us at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.