Over the last decade, the cost of the provision of facility-based care has increased at a greater rate than that for home care. As a result, an aging American population in need of care is considering an array of lower cost home-based care options more than ever. What this also means, unfortunately, is that there is the possibility for an increase in elder abuse in the home-based care context.
Home Health Aide Services – Home health aides assist those who live in their own homes rather than nursing homes or residential care facilities. They are especially common in situations where family and friends lack the time and resources to provide the necessary extent of care.
Homemaker Services – This type of support allows for people to live in their homes by helping complete household tasks that they can no longer attend to alone. Cooking, cleaning, and running errands are typical of such services.
Adult Day Health Care – This type of home care typically provides social and other support services in a facility, but only for part of the day. Some adult day health care services also provide personal care, meals, transportation, medical management, social services, and activities.
Elder Abuse – Not Just Physical
Elder abuse occurs in many different ways, not just physical abuse. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or abandonment by caregivers, financial exploitation, and healthcare fraud and abuse are problems as well. Intimidation or threats are common elements across the different forms of abuse, often leaving mental and emotional scars even when physical symptoms are lacking.
With physical elder abuse, it is relatively easy to spot symptoms. Strange bruises, welts, or scars, broken bones, and signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists, are all indicators. When elder abuse is emotional, sexual, financial, or neglect-based, however, it can be more difficult to spot symptoms. With emotional abuse, for example, an abused elder might exhibit behavior that could be mistaken for dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to oneself. Conversely, signs might be more outward and aggressive, such as the threatening, belittling, or attempting to control caregiver behavior.
Checks and balances are essential to preventing elder abuse in the home. Involving both neutral parties and family members in an older adult’s care will contribute to a clearer picture of the care that is being received. Also, look for common risk factors for elder abuse in the home. For example, substance abuse can diminish a caregiver’s ability to provide adequate care, as well as increasing the risk of financial abuse as the caregiver struggles to finance a substance abuse habit.
Nursing homes aren’t the only places where elders may be subject to abuse. With the cost of facility-based care increasing, many will choose the more affordable home care option. If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered home care elder abuse by a caregiver, you may have a claim. Please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.