Published On: Mon, Mar 5th, 2018

Protecting Your Family: What to Do When You Suspect Dangerous Eldercare

If you just can’t seem to be able to shake off the feeling that something is not quite right in the nursing home one of your family members resides in, it’s time to thoroughly examine the situation and figure out a plan on how to stand against the possible abuse. After all, the elderly are often unable to stand up for themselves due to a lack of physical strength, so they need all the help and support from their family they can get. But in practice, what is the correct way to handle the issue?

photo paffairs_sanfrancisco

Look for the signs

Oftentimes, upon careful examination of the victim’s body, you will notice clear-cut signs of physical abuse in a nursing home. These can be something obvious like cuts or bruises, but please keep in mind the elderly can be abused in another manner as well (such as in financial or psychological ways, which is a bit harder to trace back to the offender). If the affected person complains of abuse and is able to identify the one who’s at fault, this is the simplest scenario to resolve (however, the legitimacy of the confession should never be second-guessed).

The nurses are legally required to report abuse

If a nurse notices abuse in a nursing home for the elderly but fails to report it, the offender can face legal consequences and criminal charges. Of course, each country has its own rules regarding this, but such is the case in the US.

Gather proof

Prior to reporting anything, it’s important to present a strong case by gathering all the needed materials that could serve as proof of elder abuse. In order to do that, one needs to be observant and pay attention to details. For example, a slight change in the victim’s behavior might indicate that something is amiss, and upon suspecting this, you could follow up with a conversation that unveils the needed details.

How to report abuse

In order to maximize the chances of success, you’re going to need to gather all the evidence you can muster. This includes photographs of the injuries and written statements (the victim’s and those of the witnesses). In cases of mild abuse, contact your country’s ombudsman, but if the situation calls for dire measures, do not hesitate to dial 911. The police officers will take it from there. Of course, it’s possible to make an anonymous call as well, if deemed necessary.

Remain patient

The most important thing is to refrain from freaking out. After you’ve done your part, let the authorities do theirs and remain patient until the issue is resolved in one way or another. In the meantime, try to be as supportive as possible and protect the victim from any harm.


Abuse is a serious matter, and more often than not, it’s a crime that takes place in the shadows where no one is looking. By knowing your rights and those of your loved ones, you can stand up for them and even bring in some legal aid if that’s what it takes to prevail against the abusers. Never remain passive; in the end, it’s not only about protecting the affected individual, but the human rights of the entire population as well.

Author: Laura Brown

photo courtesy of Greenberg Health

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