By 2030, over 7.5 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). For the many families of those who suffer from the disease, decisions on how to care for a loved one can be difficult. Often, the patients require more assistance than the family can offer alone. Many times, families turn to skilled care facilities to provide their loved ones with a safe, healthy environment. However, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are often victims of abuse by their caregivers. An NCEA survey showed that 47 percent of surveyed caregivers had abused or neglected a patient with dementia.
Patients With Alzheimer’s Are Vulnerable to Abuse
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia—a condition that causes memory loss, confusion, social withdrawal, mood changes, and decreased judgment. These symptoms worsen over time and leave dementia patients especially vulnerable to abuse, as they may prevent the abused patient from recognizing or reporting the abuse.
It is important to be vigilant and involved in the care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, as they may not be able to communicate abuse. Symptoms of abuse may include:
- Aggressive behavior by the patient and fighting between the patient and caregiver—noted by the NCEA as the best indicator that abuse is taking place
- Physical symptoms such as bruises, welts, burn marks, or bedsores
- Sudden changes in health
- Sudden changes in finances
Finding the Best Care for Your Loved One
There are many care options available for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While it can feel like a daunting decision to place your relative in a care facility, experts suggest:
- Talking to medical professionals and social workers about local care facilities.
- Visiting the different types of facilities to get a feel for each place and what it can offer your loved one.
- Being involved. Once your loved one has entered a facility, check on him often and build a relationship with the staff.
What to Do If You Suspect Abuse
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, it is important to take action. Speak to a doctor and the staff of the care facility. In Illinois, the Department of Public Health investigates cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older person living in a long-term care facility. Additionally, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can aid in preserving evidence, preventing future instances of abuse, and securing compensation for medical expenses.
If you suspect someone you love has suffered nursing home abuse, you may choose to take legal action. Contact the experienced legal team at Tapella Law for a free consultation at (217) 394-5885.