Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are entrusted with the care of loved ones who deserve to be able to relax and live the rest of their lives in peace. These facilities were designed to help Americans care for their loved ones while still going about their busy lives. Of course, caring for an aging loved one is a full-time job, and most households cannot afford to lose a wage earner who could stay home all day and act as a caretaker.
Sadly, far too often the elderly become victims of abuse at the hands of their caretakers within a nursing home or assisted living facility. What options are available to family members whose trust has been violated by another’s negligent or criminal behavior?
State and Federal Resources
In Illinois, family members who believe their loved ones are being abused or neglected can seek help from the State’s Department on Aging. This agency works to protect senior citizens from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by working with legal services to provide advocacy or representation services free of cost. The agency also provides free seminars and training sessions on how to identify victims of abuse, as well as providing information on senior citizens’ rights under the law. On the federal level, loved ones can turn to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The role of CMS is to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid licensed facilities are providing the level of care required by federal statute. Family members who believe their loved one is in a facility that is not meeting its legal obligations can contact the federal Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and/or a local Long-Term Care Ombudsman for assistance.
Recovery from Litigation
Another path to protect loved ones from abuse is through Illinois’ Elder Abuse and Neglect Act. This law mandates that caretakers of seniors who are unable to care for themselves must report any signs of abuse to law enforcement, or face liability. State criminal and civil laws may be used to stop any ongoing abuse, punish the abuser, and/or obtain civil damages on behalf of an abused individual to help them on their path to recovery. Litigation, or the threat of litigation, also serves the purpose of highlighting any wrongdoing on the part of a caretaker, and can help motivate a nursing home or assisted living facility to make changes that will protect loved ones in the future.
It is not easy choosing a facility to care for an aging family member, and it is heartbreaking to learn that a loved one is not being treated with the care and respect they deserve. If you or someone you know suspects that a caretaker is engaging in abuse, neglect or fraud, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. Our Antioch professionals can explain your options and help your loved one obtain immediate relief from abuse or neglect.