Elder abuse is nothing short of an epidemic across our nation, with over 1/3 of all states receiving a failing or near-failing grade from the Elder Report Cards website. It’s a horrifying prospect, the idea that our parents and other senior loved ones not only aren’t getting the care they need but are being actively mistreated or neglected.
When you put your loved one in a nursing home it’s a very hard decision. They likely don’t want to go there, and you’re entrusting their care and well-being to strangers. You hope that the staff at the nursing home you choose are well-qualified and caring, but you can’t be sure until your loved one is there.
It’s important to understand where your state falls in the rankings, so you know how vigilant you need to be. Learn which states have the best elder abuse protection, and what you can do in West Virginia to protect your parent with the help of an elder abuse lawyer.
Types of Elder Abuse
When most people think of abuse, they think of physical abuse—beatings, restraints and the like. Abuse, however, takes on a wide range of forms, including sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation for financial gain, abandonment and emotional abuse. All of these can create severe trauma and life-altering circumstances from which your loved one might never recover.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes open for the signs of abuse in your loved one. You might immediately notice signs like physical injuries, broken bones, open wounds, sores, bruises and the like. There are, however, other signs that could reveal hidden abuse that’s otherwise not visible.
Signs of Abuse in a Nursing Home
Watch specifically for sudden and unexplained changes in the behavior of your senior parent. Are they suddenly withdrawn or fearful? Do they recoil from being touched? Do they exhibit fear or anxiety around the staff of the nursing home? Are they showing signs that they’re not getting their medication or do they seem underfed or malnourished? Has their hygiene become problematic?
All of these are signs that something is wrong. Also watch for unexplained financial drains, account withdrawals and the like. It’s important to be constantly vigilant for signs that your senior loved one is being taken advantage of, by the staff of any long-term care facility.
What States Have the Best Elder Abuse Protection?
Fortunately, over the years, the government has begun to take this situation more seriously. In 2010 the federal government signed the Elder Justice Act into law, the first Federal act to prevent abuse at the national level. Unfortunately, there’s been minimal funding and it falls to the states to handle these issues.
While West Virginia is not in the top ten states—this honor goes to Washington, DC, Nevada, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Iowa, Louisiana, Vermont, and Hawaii, it’s also not in the bottom ten. Those states with the lowest protections include South Carolina, Wyoming, California, Rhode Island, South Dakota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Idaho, Kentucky, and Alabama.
West Virginia Adult Protective Services
Being in the middle might not be something about which to be especially proud, but it does mean that there are safeguards in place in West Virginia. The WV Code, Chapter 9, Article 6, provides social services for adults. West Virginia Adult Protective Services takes elder abuse very seriously and will investigate reports of exploitation, neglect, and abuse.
That’s why it’s important, if you believe your elderly loved one is suffering from abuse, you should immediately contact APS, or even call 911. Your call can be kept confidential, and all reports will be thoroughly investigated. Remember that you’re not doing anything wrong by reporting suspicions of abuse; you’re protecting both those you love and potentially stopping the abuse of others in the future.
Working with an Elder Abuse Lawyer
Of course, it’s also important to have a qualified attorney in your corner. The right elder abuse lawyer can help to protect you and your loved ones, as well as hold the offenders accountable. They can not only stop the abuse, they can help you get compensation for the injuries suffered.
If you’re in West Virginia and you’re facing issues of senior abuse in nursing homes, the Stewart Bell Injury Lawyers, PLLC, are here to help. We have many years of experience dealing with issues of elder abuse, and we’re ready to defend the rights of you and yours. Give us a call for a consultation about your case today.