Abuse and neglect pose a very real and all too common threat for elderly people in West Virginia. Many of our seniors even experience multiple types of abuse at the same time. Elderly people are often unable to or unsure how to report their abuse, so it’s up to the family and friends to ensure their loved ones receive adequate care and are in a safe environment if abuse is suspected.
Suspecting that a family member or loved one is undergoing any level of elder abuse is a heartbreaking realization, and you may not know where to turn to seek justice. Read more to learn how to recognize abuse and how to report it if you suspect it. Here is everything you need to know when reporting elder abuse in Charleston, West Virginia.
Types of Elder Abuse
In order to properly report suspected elder abuse, it is important to first be able to recognize the various types of abuse. Elder abuse is generally defined as any abusive act that causes suffering for a senior citizen. In many cases, abusers are the individuals closest to the elderly person, including their caretakers, family members, or a person paid to assist in the home.
The types of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse, which may include hitting, scratching, biting, or kicking.
- Sexual abuse, which may include rape or unwanted sexual touching.
- Psychological abuse, which may include demeaning, intimidating, or threatening behavior toward the elderly person.
- Financial abuse, which may include stealing or embezzling money from the elderly person.
- Isolation, which may include confining the senior person to a room or facility and preventing them from contacting friends or family.
- Neglect, which may include failing to provide water, food, clothing, medications, or other necessities.
- Abandonment, which involves deserting a dependent elderly person.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse isn’t reported as often as it occurs because, in most cases, another person reports the abuse for them. Elderly people have to rely on friends or family to recognize signs of abuse, especially if the abused individual suffers from cognitive impairment.
Here are some common signs of elder abuse:
- Poor hygiene
- Malnourishment or dehydration
- Weight loss
- Anxiety or fear
- Unresponsive behavior
- Social isolation
- Conflicting stories about events
- Making excuses for their circumstances
- The caretaker speaks for the senior person when not needed.
- The caretaker displays hostility or indifference toward the senior person.
Financial abuse can be difficult to recognize since there are few physical signs if you do not already have access to their finances. Keep an eye out for a newly authorized person added to the senior person’s bank account, frequent unexplained withdrawals, and other odd spending patterns.
How to Report Elder Abuse
First and foremost, if you suspect elder abuse and are concerned for the senior person’s immediate health and safety, call 911 immediately. Law enforcement and EMTs can assess the situation and provide medical care.
You should report any signs of elder abuse in West Virginia by calling the Adult Protective Services Central Intake for Abuse and Neglect at 1-800-352-6513. To make a report, you will need to provide information including any physical signs of abuse, the elderly individual’s demographics, information about caregivers, and potential safety threats.
Once you file a report, your local Adult Protective Services will investigate the case of suspected abuse and cross-report it to law enforcement and other relevant agencies.
Your next step is to seek legal advice to determine how you can fight for justice for your loved one. You and your loved one may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, property loss or damage, and other expenses for the abuse. Seeking compensation for those losses often helps both the elderly person and their families get back on their feet.
Your loved one may also need supportive resources or rehabilitation to treat their mental or physical needs. Adult Protective Services may offer you and your loved one resources during and after an elder abuse investigation. If you are struggling to afford the resources you and your family need, you may be able to seek compensation with your elder abuse lawyer for those costs.
Has Your Elderly Loved One Been Abused? Call Stewart Bell, PLLC!
It is devastating to watch a loved one undergo the effects of elder abuse. The team of attorneys at Stewart Bell, PLLC, have decades of experience with elder abuse cases, and they can help you seek the justice your loved one deserves. Call 304-345-1700 or fill out the online form to get your free consultation!