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Spotting abuse and neglect of at-risk adults in Georgia

Residents of Georgia who place their family members in nursing homes or other special care institutions worry about the quality of care that will be provided. They are especially concerned about physical abuse and failure to provide proper care. Can abuse be detected? What can be done about it?

Abuse of elderly adults usually involves physical harm of some kind. A patient in a nursing home, for example, may fall or suffer another type of injury because the nursing home staff failed to provide proper preventative care. On some occasions, an unscrupulous nursing home staff member will steal the patient's identity and use that theft to steal the patient's assets. Nursing home patients are often the subject of emotional abuse from one or more staff members who lack the patience to deal with an elderly person's infirmities. Sexual abuse is also possible because elderly persons lack the ability to detect the behavior or to stop it. Another form of abuse is the failure of a care giver to provide proper care for an elderly patient.

Abuse indicators include bruises on arms or legs, burn marks, broken bones, signs of improper use of restraints and unexpected pain. Emotional abuse may result from a threat of violence, abandonment in the nursing home, threats, insults, harassment or name calling. Some patients are intentionally isolated from other patients or activities. A particularly serious form of emotional abuse is the exclusion of the patient from decision making even though the patient is capable of understanding the issues and making necessary decisions.

The state of Georgia provides a crisis access line to enable the reporting of suspected abuse. Sometimes, however, the response is not fast enough. In such cases, an experienced elder care attorney can often provide a prompt solution by direct intervention or by seeking an appropriate court order stopping the abusive behavior.

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