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Colorado Nursing Home Abuse & Elder Neglect Lawyer

Nursing home abuse and elder neglect is a serious and far too common problem. According to a study conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, 30 percent of U.S. nursing homes have been cited for abuses.

It is beyond sad that thousands of our nation’s elderly are abused each year in the very facilities responsible for their care. Unfortunately, many institutions put profits over people by cutting back on staff or hiring less qualified employees to care for your loved one. These choices can result in residents not receiving the attention they require which can lead to disastrous outcomes such as debilitating falls, untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, and under the worst circumstances, death.

Do you suspect nursing home abuse or elder neglect and need legal help?

If you suspect elder abuse or nursing home neglect is happening to a friend or loved one, contact us today to help you bring the people who harmed your loved one to justice. At Zaner Harden Law, we understand the emotional toll and devastating effects that nursing home abuse and elder neglect can have on you and your loved ones. That stress can certainly make it difficult to think about legal matters and know that we’re here to take the burden of those responsibilities off of your shoulders. With Zaner Harden on your side, we will handle the process from start to finish, and you can be certain that we secure the best possible results for your case.

DENVER & COLORADO ELDER ABUSE STATISTICS

In Colorado, during fiscal year 2007, Adult Protective Services received approximately 11,000 reports of adult mistreatment and self-neglect. Approximately 6,400 cases were active during fiscal year 2007. Just over half of Colorado’s adult protective services clients are age 75 and older. Reports of abuse are expected to increase by 15% a year, according to the Colorado Elder Abuse Task Force.

NATIONAL ELDER ABUSE STATISTICS

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ELDER ABUSE AND WHY?

Abusers are both women and men. In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.

Two factors that contribute to the elderly falling prey to elder abuse are social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease). Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect. Interpersonal violence also occurs at disproportionately higher rates among adults with disabilities.

COMMON INDICATIONS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT

Sadly, because instances of elder abuse and neglect are not always readily identifiable, it is not uncommon for these forms of abuse to go on for months or even years at a time. If you have witnessed elder abuse or neglect or suspect that it is occurring, you have a moral obligation to do what you can to make it stop. Common symptoms and indications of abuse and neglect include:

  • Bedsores (pressures sores, decubitus ulcers)
  • Open wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Bruise, cuts, welts, frozen joints
  • Burns
  • Genital infections
  • Assault and/or battery
  • Sexual assault and/or sexual battery
  • Unusual or unexplained injuries
  • Injuries that require emergency treatment or hospitalization
  • Unexplained or unexpected death
  • Dehydration or poor hydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Significant weight loss
  • Deprivation of food and drink
  • Withdrawal
  • Stranger behavior, such as rocking, biting and sucking
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Wandering and elopement
  • Unusual and unexplained lethargy or sedation
  • Chemical restraint or mind-altering medication not prescribed by doctor
  • Significant changes in medication
  • Medication errors or overdose
  • Deprivation of medication
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Torn, stained or dirty clothing
  • Urine and fecal odors
  • Infections and sepsis
  • Illnesses or condition changes that are not promptly reported to the physician and family
  • Bedrails or other physical restraints

Victims of elder abuse or neglect may not tell you what is happening for fear of retaliation, so it is critical that you know what to look for and that you are prepared to take action on their behalf.

What Does Abuse Look Like And Where Can It Occur?

The signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect are not always easy to identify, and it’s helpful to know what to look for. It is important to understand the common symptoms and indications of abuse and neglect to be vigilant and identify signs of abuse.

  • Elder and nursing home abuse refers to the actions or inactions taken against a senior citizen, either directly or indirectly, by an individual or an institution which results in harm or potential harm to the elder person.
  • The abuse or neglect experienced by your loved ones can be physical, emotional or financial.
  • The abuse or neglect can take place in a care facility, hospital, or even a private home.

Below you will find details descriptions of the most common types of elder abuse to be aware of that happen every day under a number of circumstances.

What Does Physical Elder Abuse Look Like?
Physical elder abuse is the most common and obvious type of abuse and is typically the easiest to detect. It often includes mishandling or beatings that result in cuts; scratches; bruises; welts; discoloration; open wounds; broken bones; torn, stained or bloody clothing; or restraints.

Physical elder abuse may also include over-medication resulting in drowsiness or observed in unfocused blank stares. Most serious examples of physical elder abuse include sexual abuse or injuries that require emergency treatment, hospitalization, or that result in unexplained or unexpected death.

What Does Emotional Elder Abuse Look Like?
Emotional elder abuse often accompanies physical abuse. It is also often subtle and may be more difficult to recognize. Emotional abuse includes such things as name-calling and insulting; swearing; intimidating, threatening or harassing; ignoring, confining, or isolating; humiliation; or threats to them or their loved ones.

The results of this abuse may be observed in changes in your loved one’s behavior. For example, your loved one my begin acting unusually upset or agitated, nervous, anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or non-communicative. Uncharacteristic rocking or thumb-sucking may also be the result of serious emotional elder abuse.

What Does Financial Elder Abuse Look Like?
Financial abuse occurs when assets of the resident are improperly used or diverted by caregivers, conservators, trustees, financial planners, banks, or family and friends. Examples of financial abuse include illegally taking, misusing, or concealing funds, property or assets and identity theft.

ELDER ABUSE LAWS

Both federal and state laws address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, but state law is the primary source of sanctions, remedies and protections related to elder abuse. Some examples of federal and state laws applicable to elder abuse are summarized here.

  • Elder Justice Act of 2009 was enacted in March 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590; P.L. 111-148). The Elder Justice Act coordinates federal elder abuse detection and prevention programs within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Act establishes an Elder Abuse Coordinating Council that has expertise in elder abuse prevention, detection, treatment, intervention or prosecution.
  • The Older Americans Act (42 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.) contains definitions of elder abuse and authorizes federal funding for the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), a program of the U.S. Administration on Aging.
  • Violence Against Women Act established federal domestic violence crimes that may be applied in cases of elder abuse.
  • The Enhanced Training and Services to End Violence and Abuse of Women Later in Life Program (42 U.S.C. 14041a), is a section in the Violence Against Women Act of 2005.
  • Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2009 (H.R. 448, S. 1821) would authorize federal grant funding for training state and local prosecutors, courts, and law enforcement personnel handling elder justice-related matters.
  • States address elder abuse in multiple statutory areas, including adult protective services laws, criminal codes, probate and trusts and estates codes, family law, and civil remedies.
  • Adult protective services. All states have adult protective services (APS) or elder protective services (EPS) statutes that authorize and regulate the provision of services in cases of elder abuse.
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and institutional abuse laws. All states also have statutes establishing a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. These programs advocate for the rights, safety and other interests of long-term care facility residents.
  • All states have general criminal statutes on assault, battery, sexual assault, theft, fraud and other offenses that can be applied in cases of elder abuse.
  • Civil remedies. Civil remedies for particular types of elder abuse are available in most states under statutory and case law. For example, all states provide civil remedies for domestic abuse.
  • Most states address elder abuse and neglect under probate laws, trusts and estates laws, or both. These laws are designed to protect the safety and financial interests of elderly, disabled or vulnerable adults.

CONTACT A KNOWLEDGEABLE, EXPERIENCED DENVER NURSING HOME ABUSE & ELDER NEGLECT LAWYER TODAY

If you suspect that someone you love is suffering from abuse or neglect in a nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital, speaking to an attorney gives you the opportunity to tell your story, learn your legal options, and find out what plan of action is best for you and your family.

At Zaner Harden Law, our compassionate, experienced attorneys are here to help you. We take on a limited number of cases so that all of our time and attention is focused on getting you the compensation and justice you deserve. We invite you to request a free, confidential consultation with one of our nursing home abuse & elder neglect attorneys–so that you can get your questions answered and feel confident about the next step. Call us today or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment and meet our team.