Adult Protective Services (APS)—a social services program through many state or local governments throughout the United States— aids older adults or adults with disabilities. APS workers investigate cases of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and work closely with medical professionals, physicians, paramedics, nurses, firefighters, and law enforcement officials. Every state has its own APS system, and in the state of Illinois, the APS has 43 different provider agencies regulated by the Illinois Department of Aging in accordance with the federal act known as the Older Americans Act of 1965.
If you believe your elderly loved one suffered any kind of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, contact your local APS agency immediately as well as the police. If you feel your loved one is in any kind of danger, act immediately.
Types of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes can include physical, emotional, or financial effects, as reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Physical Abuse and Neglect
Some of the warning signs that signal physical elder abuse and neglect can include:
- weight gain or loss
- tooth or hair loss
- internal injuries
- bruising or burns
- physical sores, bedsores (also called pressure sores), or bodily marks that indicate restraint
Symptoms of overmedication or unnecessary sedation may also signal elder abuse, along with unexplained infections, poor hygiene, broken or fractured bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), sexually transmitted disease, or genital injuries.
Emotional/Psychological Abuse and Neglect
Some of the warning signs that signal emotional or psychological or mental abuse towards an elderly resident of a nursing home include sudden:
- outbursts of rage or anger
- depression or anxiousness
- severe changes in personality
- withdrawal from normal life activities or hobbies
If a caretaker fails to maintain residents’ personal hygiene or administer medication properly, the resident may depict more signs of mental abuse or neglect. These signs may include eating or sleeping changes with no explanation, sudden terror or fear of nursing home staff, or repetitive behaviors such as hair pulling, teeth grinding, hand sucking, or rocking back and forth.
Some examples of financial abuse of an elderly resident may include altering or changing names on bank accounts or estate planning documents, actual theft of checks or cash, stealing or “borrowing” credit cards to make purchases, or stealing an elderly resident’s property. Many elderly residents of nursing homes suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and cannot understand the manipulation or remember that the abuse occurred.
How Adult Protective Services Helps Those Suffering from Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
Many elderly residents of nursing homes suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of nursing home staff members. When families suspect that their elderly loved ones suffered abuse in a nursing home, they may report the suspected abuse or neglect to APS. When APS receives a report of elder abuse, the following steps typically occur:
- A trained professional may screen the report of nursing home abuse or neglect carefully to evaluate it and determine if the allegations meet the statutory requirements to classify as elder abuse or neglect.
- If an analysis of the report meets the criteria for elder abuse or neglect under the law, the APS worker may meet with the nursing home resident.
- If the APS worker determines the elderly nursing home resident suffered abuse or neglect, they may develop a plan to maintain the resident’s safety and well-being.
APS often works with law enforcement agencies, and when elder abuse occurs, the APS worker passes this evidence and information to the appropriate officials.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-934-6555
Other Reporting Agencies
The police may arrive at the nursing home and determine the next steps regarding any elder abuse that occurred. Additionally, you may file a grievance directly with the nursing home. All nursing homes must have a specific protocol and procedure in place to deal with complaints involving elder abuse and neglect. Finally, you may use the Eldercare Locator, a service that can refer you to the specific local agency that handles elder abuse cases in your area.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
Elderly residents of nursing homes should never suffer from any kind of abuse or neglect. After you contact APS regarding the abuse or neglect of your elderly loved one in a nursing home, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to help you with your next steps for holding the nursing home liable.