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Elder Abuse: How and When to File a Claim Against Nursing Homes

Posted in Blog on July 19, 2018

When it comes to domestic violence, the media typically report on married couples. However, the abuse of the Elderly in nursing homes is quite common. In Colorado alone, there are over 4,000 incidents that get reported each year.1 Elder abuse includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Exploitation, neglect, and abandonment are also considered abuse. Perpetrators include children, family members, and spouses. It is important to note that staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities can also contribute to Elder Abuse.

Abuse of any kind is not something to be tolerated, and if you or a loved one have suffered from Elder Abuse, it is essential to take action and recognize the signs of types of abuse that occur.

Who are At-Risk Adults?

The state of Colorado recognizes at-risk adults as persons who are 18 years and older who are unable to provide or obtain services necessary for their health, safety, and welfare. This qualifies adults who cannot also make or understand responsible decisions.

According to the National Center On Aging (NCOA), the types of abuse are classified as follows:

  1. Sexual abuse: touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an older adult, when the older adult is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.
  2. Physical abuse: inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult.
  3. Emotional abuse: verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.
  4. Confinement as it relates to restraining or isolating an older adult, other than for medical reasons.
  5. Passive neglect is a caregiver’s failure to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
  6. Willful deprivation: denying an older adult medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, and exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm—except when the older, competent adult has expressed a desire to go without such care.
  7. Financial exploitation: the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another.

Making a Report to the Colorado APS

The Adult Protective Services (APS) investigates accusations of physical and sexual abuse, caretaker neglect, and exploitation and neglect of at-risk adults.

To get an investigation underway, it is critical to be sure that your claim is valid. If you knowingly make a false report in the state of Colorado, it is a class 3 misdemeanor, and you could receive a fine of up to $750, six months in jail, or both.

Additionally, it is important to have as much information as possible about the at-risk adult, the perpetrator, and the actions or behavior that is concerning you.

Adult Protective Services will need the following information:

1) Name and address of the at-risk adult
2) A description of the mistreatment/situation
3) The extent of any injury
4) Name and address of the perpetrator, if possible

The following information is helpful to have if you want to have a stronger case:

1) When you last saw the adult
2) Any medical or physical conditions that impair the adult’s ability to provide day-to-day needs for themselves
3) Problems, (if any), with memory, decision making, or understanding how to care for him/herself
4) Any developmental, intellectual, or cognitive disability that impairs the adult’s ability for self-care
5) If there has been a decline in the adult’s ability to adequately cook, shop, use available transportation, manage medications, or mobility
6) If there are caretakers or family members currently working to address the adult’s needs

After the county Adult Protective Services program receives a report of mistreatment or self-neglect, they determine the need for an investigation. If there is an investigation, this will strengthen your case in court if you wish to make a claim.

The most important thing you will need for your claim is medical records and evidence that supports the abuse or mistreatment. With the help of the APS, examined medical records, and the advice of a trusted attorney, justice for you and your loved ones is possible. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.

1 http://www.shouselaw.com/colorado/domestic_violence/elder_abuse.html

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