Your Rights and Preventing Abuse in Assisted Living
When it comes to your loved ones, it’s hard to imagine anyone going through the pain of abuse of neglect. According to state and local governments, the aging population is considered a vulnerable group in need of protections that guarantee their rights and safety. Generally speaking, seniors are particularly susceptible to abuse and exploitation as they are less able to defend themselves. Especially if they also suffer from major physical or medical disabilities.
There has been significant media attention regarding elder abuse in senior care assisted living facilities but it’s important to realize abuse can happen anywhere. Knowing the signs of abuse and remaining aware of elder rights is important when considering outside senior care. There are a number of guaranteed rights that apply regardless of location, including these:
1. Right to Privacy
The right to privacy is guaranteed for all seniors, like any other citizen, unless power of attorney has been given to another person; ensuring that power of attorney was given during a clear state of mind and without duress is also important. Financial abuse is a major concern for the seniors in the care of others. Caregivers or even family members may demand, manipulate, or steal money and/or possessions. Some may even abuse or steal a senior’s identity. Other forms of abuse, such as healthcare abuse, may also violate privacy rights.
2. Right to Mental, Physical, and Emotional Support
Seniors are entitled to healthcare services within a reasonable amount of time regardless of the type of services. Neglect can be a major concern. No healthcare services can be withheld or limited, including: medical services, personal care, maintenance, medication, emergency response, psychological services, and access to friends and family.
3. Rights of In-Home Residents
Seniors in residential communities, such as assisted living or a nursing home, are entitled to the following rights:
- The right to be treated with dignity
- The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment and neglect
- The right to privacy
- The right to freedom from physical and chemical restraints
- The right to communicate freely
- The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological and social needs
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal
- The right to participate in resident and family groups
- The right to participate in a review of one’s care plan
Although the majority of senior care providers are trustworthy, it’s comforting to know your rights are protected. There are a number of options put in place to find protection, seek justice, and prevent further abuses. Each state has a hotline for reporting elder abuse that all medical psychological professionals are required to use when signs of abuse are present. This hotline can also connect seniors with a social worker, initiate an investigation, and seek out additional social services.
There are also lawyers and legal groups that specialize in elder abuse and protection that can determine if elder rights have been infringed upon. They may also help in gaining financial compensation and justice through legal action against abusers. Go to your local Aging Services Division for more information.
About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.