If you suspect an elderly family member or friend is being mistreated or abused, act quickly. Elder abuse is a very real crime and your loved one could be in danger. The first step is ensuring the safety of the victim, which may include relocating the person if she is in an institution where you cannot protect her on a daily basis. Once she is safe, contact David Brauns, a nursing home abuse attorney in Gwinnett County, for help.
Brauns Law is knowledgeable about elder abuse laws in Georgia. We can help you seek safety for your loved one as well as restitution for any injuries, financial losses, pain and suffering, and more. Our team can help notify and update all appropriate agencies on your case and work towards bringing abusers to justice.
What constitutes elder abuse?
Elder abuse is a horrible crime. It can take place in a nursing home, hospital, or at home. It may be difficult to identify the abuser, so you might need to do some investigative work to identify the responsible party. Do not go through this alone; David Brauns and the Brauns Law team can help.
Any intentional or negligent act knowingly committed against an elderly person by another person is elder abuse. David Brauns will help you identify which of the following types of abuse might be taking place and guide you on the best path to protect your loved one:
- Emotional abuse: You may identify this type of abuse by changes in behavior. Depression, withdrawal, outbursts, or other unusual activities may be signs that your loved one is experiencing emotional abuse.
- Physical abuse: This might be the most obvious type of abuse and is typically identified by bruises, cuts, broken eyeglasses, torn clothing, or other unexpected injuries or symptoms. It also includes sexual abuse.
- Neglect: If your loved one is showing signs of extreme hunger or thirst, has lost a lot of weight, seems unkempt, or lacks acceptable hygiene, her caretakers may be neglecting her.
- Abandonment: This may happen if someone responsible for your loved one leaves her in a public place, such as a shopping mall, or at a hospital or nursing home.
- Financial abuse: When a trusted fiduciary takes advantage of an elderly person’s trust for his own financial gain, it is a form of elder abuse. If you feel another party is mismanaging your loved one’s finances, notice dwindling resources, or if your loved one has made wild and unlikely financial decisions, you may be witnessing the effects of financial abuse.
Elder Care & Abuse Laws in Georgia
There are several laws in Georgia that govern the operation of nursing homes. The law divides nursing homes into two groups: long-term care facilities and personal care homes.
O.C.G.A. § 31-8-5 is known as the "Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities." This section includes a complete breakdown of the rights a resident has while living in the care of a long-term care facility. These rights include:
- Freedom from having to work or perform services for the facility.
- Freedom to practice their religion.
- Freedom to meet in private with the person(s) of their choice.
- Freedom to access their medical records upon request.
- Freedom from the use of restraints or isolation, even as a threat, as a form of punishment.
- Visitation hours for at least 12 continuous hours per 24-hour period, seven days a week.
- The right to voice complaints regarding the facility's policies, procedures, and services.
- A right to privacy, including a right to knowing when a staff member is entering their room and the right to private conversations.
- The right to use their personal property without fear of theft or damage.
- The right to a uniform standard of care among residents.
The other type of elder care facility is a personal care home, although they may also be known as assisted living, residential care, or board and care facilities. These facilities are limited to providing meals, personal care, and companionship for people who only need minor help with daily life needs. These facilities are not licensed to provide medical care.
The “Remedies for Residents of Personal Care Homes Act” (O.C.G.A. § 31-8-5A) regulates personal care homes. This Act defines what constitutes a personal care home and establishes the rights of the residents therein. The Act provides that personal care homes will follow the rules and regulations of the Department of Community Health.
What can I do?
In Georgia, medical personnel, financial institution employees, law enforcement, and social welfare workers are legally obligated to report elder abuse upon suspicion.
Notify your loved one’s doctor or another trusted professional as soon as possible. If your loved one is in a nursing home or hospital, you will need to report the incident to the facility’s administration.
The long-term care ombudsman program exists to advocate for the safety of elderly Georgia residents. Georgia has a state ombudsman and several community ombudsmen. The Georgia state ombudsman program is responsible for handling regulation and grievances of both long-term care facilities and personal care homes.
In addition, notify the Adult Protective Services (APS) Unit of the Department of Family and Children Services in Gwinnett County. You can file a report online or call 866-55AGING (866-552-4464)
APS is required to conduct a prompt and full investigation upon receiving a report, which can greatly help your case during the legal process. The David Brauns law team will coordinate with these agencies to obtain any reports or other evidence needed to support claims you need to file for damages on your loved one’s behalf.
If you need help for your loved one, call David Brauns today. We are ready to listen to the details of your case and offer our expert analysis of how to handle your elder abuse case for best results. For a no cost, no obligation consultation, contact us at 404-998-5252.