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What to Do If You are Accused of Elder Abuse?

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Older adults may be frail or live with disabling chronic conditions, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Being in a vulnerable condition makes them susceptible to elder abuse. But caregivers who are wrongly accused of abusing a senior must know their legal rights and the actions to take to protect themselves. Home Caregivers are tasked with a demanding job: providing quality care to an elderly individual, oftentimes for several hours a day, over months or years. They can be fraught with anger, frustration, and exhaustion. Caregivers who are burned out might resort to abusing or neglecting the care recipient.

What are Types of Elder Abuse?

Abuse may take place in the senior’s home by family members, friends, or hired caregivers. It is not uncommon for nursing home staff to be accused of elder abuse. In fact, nursing homes run rampant with physical, sexual, and emotional abuses as well as neglect of residents’ basic needs.

elder abuse lawyer illinois

Physical Abuse

A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 9 percent of nursing home staff admitted to physically assaulting an elderly resident. Examples of physical abuse include kicking or punching, restraining the senior with straps, and shoving the older adult.

Seniors who undergo physical abuse in these facilities endure broken bones, bruises, and bleeding. Without proper medical attention, abuse victims suffer serious injuries or even death. Elder abuse also assumes other forms, such as medication errors, malnutrition, and ignoring residents’ complaints.

Emotional Abuse

Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are outcomes of emotional abuse. Examples include insulting the senior’s appearance, threatening the older individual, and isolating the senior from loved ones. A senior who undergoes emotional abuse experiences changes to their mood or behavior.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse can be committed by members of the senior’s social circle, such as friends, family members, or caregivers. Types of financial abuse include manipulating bank accounts, inheritance fraud, using the senior’s credit card, taking out a second mortgage in their name, and withholding their financial resources.

Do Misunderstandings and False Accusations Occur?

While clear neglect and other forms of elder abuse are serious crimes that warrant second-degree felony charges, sometimes caregivers, friends, or family members are falsely accused of elder abuse. Misunderstandings or a senior’s dementia can put caregivers at risk of being wrongly accused.

For example, a family member who notices black-and-blue bruises on a senior’s arm may suspect a caregiver has intentionally physically abused them—although the injuries resulted from an accidental trip and fall. In this case, the older adult’s injuries are not due to neglect but an accident.

Dementia and mental health conditions may cause an elderly patient to point fingers when no crime has been committed. Due to the confusion associated with dementia, a senior may honestly believe they have been a victim of elder abuse when misconduct did not actually occur.

Family members themselves may become tangled in squabbles about receiving monetary gifts or a larger share of the senior’s estate. False accusations of financial elder abuse fly. The adult children may accuse siblings or relatives of stealing money or property from the aging parent.

Why are Wrongful Accusations Significant?

Wrongful accusations are damaging, as they destroy the caregiver’s reputation. They can lead to criminal charges, jail time and fines, and strain relationships. Due to the serious repercussions, caregivers who have done nothing wrong should understand their legal rights and protect themselves.

When an individual files a complaint to law enforcement about elder abuse, the authorities will investigate. If appropriate, an arrest is made and criminal charges are brought. A trial begins if the prosecutor files charges. A prison sentence of up to 15 years follows upon conviction.

Knowingly filing a false claim of elder abuse comes with legal consequences. The individual is faced with a third-degree felony charge. If convicted, the penalties include prison time or hefty fines. The Department of Children and Family Services may fine the accuser up to $10,000 for false accusations.

What Legal Recourse Do the Falsely Accused Have?

The resulting damage to reputation and lost income from false accusations of elder abuse should prompt the wrongly accused to take immediate legal action. A civil lawsuit against the accuser can lead to compensation. A lawsuit requires the services of a qualified and experienced attorney.

A criminal defense attorney is positioned to help the wrongly accused navigate the complex legal processes and build a defense that restores their client’s reputation. The legal professional can also show that the accused’s actions do not meet the criteria for elder abuse.

A powerful legal defense is critical when someone makes false allegations and presents evidence in court that makes the wrongly accused appear guilty. The legal team examines the evidence and aggressively defends the falsely accused, thereby taking control of the issue.

elders living in peace

Work With Elder Law Attorney in Illinois

Berry-K.-Tucker-elderly-abuse-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-ILElder abuse is an unfortunate reality. However, individuals might be wrongly accused of crimes. When you face a false allegation of elder abuse, the competent legal team at Berry K Tucker & Associates is ready to listen to your story, prepare a strong defense, and bring about justice.

Our elder law attorneys are experienced in fulfilling the diverse legal needs of seniors. We handle a vast array of cases, representing the elderly involved in disputes about nursing homes and assisted living. Our comprehensive legal services include end-of-life planning, estate planning, and guardianship.

At Berry K Tucker & Associates, we possess the knowledge and experience to meet the unique needs of seniors. Our compassionate approach ensures that our clients understand all of their legal options, especially when they face tough decisions, like end-of-life planning and health care decision planning.

Whether you are falsely accused of elder abuse or must plan for the future, the elder law attorneys at Berry K Tucker & Associates provide the legal support you need. Our firm accepts clients in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and the neighboring areas. Call our law firm for dedicated legal help at 708.425.9530.

8 Common Injuries That Occur in Nursing Homes

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While admitting an aging loved one into a nursing home is one of the least favorable of care options, life circumstances may warrant such a scenario. Every year, two million seniors undergo nursing home mistreatment, which results in injuries.Personal Injury Law

When neglect and physical abuse in nursing homes occur, defenseless elders sustain injuries, which can sometimes lead to death. Seniors and family members have the legal right to bring charges against liable nursing home facilities in response to negligence or criminal intent.

Overcrowded and understaffed facilities and overworked nursing home employees contribute to intentional or unintentional injuries to seniors. Due to mental incapacities or physical infirmities, many seniors fail to report nursing home abuse. Fear of retaliation also keeps many abused seniors silent.

Families with loved ones in nursing homes should be observant of signs of abuse and consult an elder law attorney when mistreatment occurs. Here are 8 common nursing home injuries.

1. Bed sores

Bed sores affect over 2.5 million seniors annually. When an elder remains immobile for prolonged periods of time, the skin along bony areas of the body becomes injured. Pressure points, such as those along the hips, ankles, tailbone and lower back, provoke an eruption of bed sores.

Left untreated, bed sores can morph into gangrene, sepsis and joint infections, among a host of additional ailments. When a senior is involuntarily sedentary, bed sores are likely to emerge. Daily bed inspections and shifting the senior away from pressure points prevent bed sores.

2. Malnutrition and Dehydration

One third of nursing home occupants are unable to consume nutrient-rich foods or drink liquids on their own. Elderly individuals who have difficulty chewing food, swallowing or eating independently are at a high risk for malnutrition and dehydration.

Understaffed nursing home facilities, high turnover in the field and improperly trained nursing assistants contribute to underweight residents and elder malnutrition. Nursing home staff should be properly trained to help seniors consume the recommended daily amount of liquids and balanced meals daily.

3. Burns

Burns may result from numerous causes within a nursing home. Extremely hot coffees or teas, scalding food, hot showers, high-temperature physical therapy heating pads and sunburns can lead to second and third degree burns along the fragile skin of seniors.

Preventing burns requires that hot foods be checked prior to serving, hot shower water be checked prior to baths, heating pad temperatures are monitored, the length of time seniors are in the sun should be supervised and residents’ whereabouts should be known in the event of a facility fire.

4. Medication Errors

Life-threatening emergencies can result in medication errors. Some facilities fail to have the right medicines in stock, leaving residents without medication. In some instances, nursing staff ignore or alter the administration instructions or even discontinue the medications.

Seniors may be given expired medications, excessive, or inadequate medicines, improper technique in administering the medications or the wrong medications at the wrong time. Staff may crush pills not intended to be crushed or fail to deliver the necessary liquids—leading to dehydration.

5. Falls

Each year, 100 to 200 nursing home resident falls are reported. Serious injuries, including disability, a decline in functional ability and even death may result. Seniors who experience falls tend to experience feelings of isolation and helplessness. Frequent falls may be a sign of an unaddressed health condition.

6. Head Injuries

Accidental head injuries may occur when nursing home residents slip and fall in the shower, transfer from a wheelchair to a bed, walk along facility sidewalks, or attempt to retrieve items from a high shelf. Intentional head injuries are a possibility in some cases.

Adjusting the senior’s environment reduces a chance for injury. Simple alterations include removing tripping hazards (like rugs), properly utilizing patient lifts for transfer into or out of a wheelchair, dining chairs or shower and keeping commonly used items on low shelves.

7. Sepsis

A full body infection in nursing home residents, sepsis is a consequence of infected, untreated bed sores. Given aging individuals’ weakened immune systems, severe complications from sepsis can threaten seniors’ lives. High fever, chills and a rapid heartbeat characterize the first stage of sepsis.

Elder septic shock can result when the early stages of sepsis go untreated. The senior’s blood pressure drops severely enough that medical professionals are no longer able to restore it. Death can result from extremely low blood pressure. Nursing home negligence is often a cause of sepsis.

8. Choking

Elderly individuals are susceptible to choking when they improperly ingest beverages, certain foods, or medications. Without constant monitoring during mealtimes and medication administration, choking is a stark possibility. Dehydrated individuals can also choke due to an increased difficulty in swallowing.

Nursing home staff should be properly trained to provide appropriate foods and medicines. To prevent choking, employees should engage in regular monitoring of residents for medication side effects and ensure seniors are upright when they consume food and beverages.

The crowded facilities, overworked staff, and lack of proper employee training lead to horrendous cases of nursing home resident injuries. The vulnerable state in which the majority of nursing home residents live requires extensive care on the part of the employees.

Work with an AttorneyBerry-K.-Tucker-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

As a concerned family member, you may suspect nursing home neglect. When doubts about care arise, turn to a reputable elder law and personal injury attorney, like Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our firm specializes in all issues surrounding elder care, from nursing home injuries to end-of-life issue planning.

Discuss your concerns regarding the well-being of an aging loved one with a Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. lawyer. Each attorney is dedicated to protecting the interests of the senior in your life. We specialize in health care decision planning, assisted-living arrangements and guardianship, among other elder law niches.

Experienced elder law attorneys from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. provide invaluable legal expertise and legal advice to help you and your loved one make the most compassionate and appropriate decisions at this important stage of life.

An initial consultation helps determine what type of elder law services your unique situation warrants. Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. serves individuals and families in the communities surrounding Oak Lawn, Illinois.

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