According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one out of every ten seniors living at home suffers from some form of elder abuse. This is only an estimation, as many seniors do not report the abuse. We trust home health caregivers, both employed and related, to care for our elderly loved ones in a dignified and cautious manner. If your loved one’s caregiver breached this trust, call a New York home healthcare abuse attorney.
The attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates can help you file a claim and hold the abusive caregiver liable for any damages your loved one sustained.
What types of home caregivers are liable to commit abuse or neglect?
Sadly, over 50 percent of caregivers who subject an elderly person to any form of mistreatment are a family member of the victim. This statistic comes from the 2008 National Elder Mistreatment Study.
The other type of home caregiver liable to engage in abuse is a home aid, nurse, or unrelated live-in caregiver. While these people should have the proper training and qualifications for elder caregiving, if their employing agency does not run background checks and assess performance, the potential of abusive behavior can increase.
In what kind of abuse do home caregivers engage?
Home caregivers are capable of committing all types of elder abuse including:
- Physical abuse
- Mental/emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Financial abuse
Note that because the home health caregiver is performing his or her duties in the home of the elder, they must respect the sanctity of the home. Using the elder’s home for any purposes that are harmful or unwanted to the elder can also be an abuse of their relationship.
It may be harder to catch abuse committed by a home caregiver due to the lower standard of monitoring and job performance compared to a nursing home. This situation is especially true of family member caregivers, who are less likely to be involved in a confrontation with other family members due to relationships.
According to the 2008 study, only eight percent of the participants who experienced emotional abuse in that last year reported it to the police. Thirty-one percent reported physical abuse, while only 16 percent reported sexual abuse.
Holding a Caregiver Responsible for Elder Abuse or Neglect
If the caregiver is an employee of a home care agency or professional nursing provider, his or her employing company could be liable for abuse committed by the employee. Family caregivers are still liable for injuries suffered by their elder charge, as they are in violation of elder care laws.
Along with the criminal prosecution of the negligent caregiver, victims and their families might be entitled to compensatory damages. These damages can include:
- Pain and suffering (emotional damages)
- Cost of medical care related to the abuse
- Long-term care for severe injury
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages against a home care agency might also apply to your case if an investigation finds the agency engaged in negligent hiring practices.
Preventing Home Health Care Elder Abuse
Knowing who is entering your loved one’s home is an important part of ensuring your elder receives proper care. If there will be multiple caregivers attending to your loved one, make sure you have a schedule and contact information for each one. Checking in with your elder while the caregivers are there and while they are not is a good way to determine if things are going well with the care received.
Look for changes in behavior from when your loved one is with his or her caregiver and when he or she is alone with you. Your elder may act fine with the caregiver nearby but show signs of distress or depression when alone, especially if he or she fears the caregiver.
Watch for physical signs of abuse such as unexplained weight loss from malnutrition, bruises, bed sores, and unexplained injuries. Emotional signs include sudden depression, acting out, or unexplained rage.
Seek Legal Help if You Suspect Home Health Care Elder Abuse
We help families right the wrongs of negligent or abusive caregivers, even if they are members of your family. If you are questioning the quality of care a home caregiver is providing to your loved one, do not delay in investigating the matter. Call Buttafuoco & Associates at 1-800-NOW-HURT to schedule a free consultation with one of our elder care attorneys.