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Dementia Patients at High Risk for Caregiver Abuse

If you know someone suffering from dementia, you know that this disease brings with it many challenges. Dementia can change your loved one’s personality and behavior, sometimes drastically. Dementia patients can become forgetful, unpredictable, easily frustrated and, as the disease continues to progress, unable to perform even simple tasks.

Caring for a dementia patient requires a lot of patience as well as physical, emotional and financial resources. Many of us find that we are simply not equipped to serve as full-time caregiver to a loved one experiencing this disease. When we make the tough decision to turn over caregiving responsibilities to someone else – whether that be through in-home assistance or at a healthcare facility – we trust that our loved one will be cared for by qualified, appropriately trained and empathetic professionals.

Unfortunately, even when you have done your research, you cannot guarantee that your loved one will receive adequate care. Healthcare workers, particularly in elder care facilities, are often over-worked and can easily become susceptible to the stresses of their job. Although frustration is normal, some caregivers let it negatively affect the quality of care they provide to their patients.

You need to be alert to signs that the quality of your family member’s care may be compromised. If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of a trusted caregiver, our experienced Colorado Springs personal injury lawyers will help you stand up for their rights and hold the right person responsible.

Know Your Stats: Dementia Patients and Caregiver Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that abuse and neglect of people with dementia occur with shocking regularity:

  • In a recent survey of healthcare professionals, 20 percent of all caregivers expressed concerns that they might become violent with their dementia patients.
  • In fact, according to one U.S. study, nearly 50 percent of all caregivers of patients with dementia have demonstrated abusive behavior toward their patients.
  • Sixty percent of caregivers reported being verbally abusive toward dementia patients, while 14 percent reported neglecting dementia patients and up to ten percent reported subjecting their dementia patients to physical abuse.

The NCEA estimates that, by 2030, approximately 7.7 million people will have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Instances of abuse and neglect of dementia patients can be expected to rise accordingly.

How to Spot Potential Caregiver Abuse or Neglect

With instances of abuse and neglect at these levels, anyone can be at risk, no matter how thoroughly you may have vetted a prospective caregiver.  Be vigilant for the following warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of caregiver abuse or neglect:

  • Emotional or Behavioral Signs: Unusual changes in behavior or sleep patterns; isolation; anxiety; depression; lack of response
  • Physical Signs: broken bones; untreated bruises, welts, cuts, sores or burns; torn, stained or bloody clothing; unexplained sexually transmitted diseases; poor nutrition or hydration; dirty or disheveled appearance or living conditions; missing or broken medical assistance devices (glasses, walker, teeth, hearing aid); lack of proper medications or over-medication
  • Financial Signs: unusual changes to bank accounts, financial management, will or other legal documents; fraudulent signatures on financial documents; unexplained changes to credit history

If you suspect that abuse or neglect may be occurring, report it immediately to the healthcare facility administration or in-home care service and to the proper authorities. The U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator can provide contact information for reporting suspected abuse. If you believe your loved one is at immediate risk of physical harm, call 911 or your local police.

Speak With a Colorado Springs Personal Injury Lawyer As Soon As Possible

An attorney experienced in personal injury and nursing home abuse cases can help you take action to recover for medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress and any other financial losses caused by caregiver abuse or neglect, including wrongful death. Levine Law’s Colorado Springs personal injury lawyers are here to help. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 719-471-3000.

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