Elder Abuse in Oklahoma
Elder Abuse is an intentional act or negligence in failing to act by a caregiver in a relationship involving an older adult that causes or creates a substantial risk of harm to the older adult. An “elder” is anyone over the age of 62.
The trauma of elder abuse may result in health issues like deterioration in health, hospitalization and increased mortality, clinical issues like depression and suicide, social issues like disrupted relationships, and financial loss, all leading to diminished independence and quality of life.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Oklahoma
If you are suspicious that elder abuse many be happening, you may place a report of abuse, neglect or exploitation online or to your local DHA county office, or local law enforcement. You may also call the Statewide Abuse Hotline 1-800-522-3511.
What is Elder Abuse and Neglect?
Nursing homes are held to a high standard of care for the elderly, because of elders’ fragility and the special trust we place in nursing homes to care for the elderly. Falls that wouldn’t leave a bruise on a younger person might fracture or break an elderly person’s bones. But abuse can still occur in a nursing home or a care facility. Abuse can come from caretakers or even family members who suddenly find themselves having to care for an ailing parent or grandparent, and by certain circumstances neglect or abuse them.
Physical Abuse: Physical elder abuse is any form of violence or harm that injures an older person. This form of elder abuse may happen regularly or just once, and the resulting injuries may require months of recovery or even contribute to an elder’s death. Sadly, since many elderly persons have more fragile bodies, even a single instance of abuse can lead to long-term health problems or even death. To prevent physical abuse, trusted family members should keep a close watch on their elderly loved ones who receive care from others.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse: Emotional and psychological abuse is harder to recognize than physical abuse, but it is still damaging for the elderly person. Emotional and psychological abuse can sound like blaming, scapegoating, humiliating, ridiculing, terrorizing, intimidating, yelling or demeaning the elder. Unfortunately, this is one of the most difficult forms of elder abuse to identify.
Sexual Abuse: Elder sexual abuse includes any sexual contact with an elder who, because of mental illness or dementia, cannot communicate their disapproval of the behavior against them or cannot communicate consent for the activity. Elderly woman in nursing homes are especially at risk for sexual abuse.
Financial Exploitation: Financial exploitation of an elderly person is a felony, and the punishment of exploiting a person of less that $100,000 is up to 10 years in prison and a maximum of $10,000. If a person exploits an amount above $100,000, the punishment is up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
The law defines financial exploitation as (1) using deception or intimidation to gain access to an elderly person or disabled adult’s money or property for personal use or for the benefit of someone other than the owner by someone who is in a position of trust or who has a business relationship with the elderly person or disabled adult; or (2) obtaining or using, or attempting or conspiring to use or obtain an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s money or property by someone who knows or should reasonably know that the elderly or disabled person lacks the capacity to consent to its use in such a manner.
Neglect: Neglect is the failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation. It can be intentional or unintentional, based on factors such as ignorance or denial that an elderly charge needs as much care as they do. Neglect can be physical, emotional, or abandonment.
First, physical neglect includes failing to attend to a person’s medical, hygienic, nutrition and dietary needs, such as dispensing medications, changing bandages, bathing, grooming, dressing, or failure to provide ample food to maintain health. Second, emotional neglect means causing emotional pain, distress, or anguish by ignoring, belittling, or infantilizing the needs of adults. The third and most extreme kind of neglect is abandonment, which is when the caretaker entirely deserts the elderly person and does not arrange for them any new sufficient care and support for the duration of their absence.
Signs and Symptoms of Elderly Abuse
It can be difficult for some elderly people to bring attention to the abuses that they are enduring because elderly people may be non-verbal, have extreme memory loss, or be so affected by disease or old age that they are not capable of communicating. For these reasons, it is important to keep an eye out for evidence of abuse, which typically involves the following:
- Physical injuries
- Sores and Wounds
- Untreated Illness
- Unexplained STD
- Poor Hygiene
- Soiled bedding or clothing
- Signs of restraints: ligature marks around wrists, ankles, or chest
- Unexplained Lethargy or Sedatives
- Broken personal items
- Becoming Uncommunicative
- Sudden changes in habit
- Fear of staff members or other residents
Adult Protective Services
APS provides vulnerable adults protection from abuse, neglect or exploitation and offers services. The services help with proper medical care, self-maintenance skills, personal hygiene, adequate food, shelter and protection.
When placing a report to APS, you will be asked to provide information:
(1) the vulnerable adult’s name, address, or location;
(2) the caretaker’s name or address, when any; and
(3) a description of the vulnerable adult’s situation. Please report even if you do not know all the answers or have proof of abuse.
APS E-mail: [email protected]
APS Telephone: 1-877-751-2972
Mandated Reporting of Elder Abuse
Who is required to report?
Anyone can report elder abuse; however, basically anyone that has a duty of care to the elderly or the community that involves working with the elderly. The following list is long as the importance of this duty cannot be overstated: physicians, medical and health care professionals, social workers and mental health professionals, law enforcement officers, domestic violence program staff, long-term care facility personnel, people entering into transactions with a caretaker or other person who has assumed the role of financial management for a vulnerable adult, residential care staff, group home staff, personal care assistants, job coaches, community service workers and municipal employees.
When is a reporting Elder Abuse required?
When there is reasonable cause to believe that a vulnerable adult is suffering from elder abuse, elder neglect, or exploitation of the elder. As soon as the reporter is aware of the situation, they need to make a report it.
What information goes into the report?
The name and address of the vulnerable adult, as well as a description of their location and a description of their current mental/physical condition. The must include the name and address of the caretaker, and describe the situation that constitutes the abuse. It is insufficient to simply identify the nursing home facility that the alleged elder abuse occurred.
Elderly and Incapacitated Victim’s Protection Program
The purpose of this program is to enhance the punishments if a crime is committed against an elderly person. The reason for this is that elderly people are a special class of persons who are more susceptible to abuse, and legislators want to protect them.
Enhanced penalties may include mandatory minimum periods of incarceration, restitution (plus 12% interest), property seizure, community service, or fines. On a third offense of elderly abuse, there may even be a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.
The program enhances penalties for the following:
- Assault, battery, or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon
- Aggravated assault and battery
- Burglary in the second degree
- Use of a firearm or offensive weapon to commit or attempt to commit a felony, or pointing a firearm
- Grand larceny
- Extortion, or obtaining a signature by extortion
- Fraud, or obtaining or attempting to obtain property by trick or deception
- Caretaker abuse, neglect, or exploitation
Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Nursing Home Abuse Advocates
Experience matters when you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse. It is important to know the Oklahoma personal injury lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of nursing home law and damages in Oklahoma. Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for accident victims and will fight for you. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and fight for compensation. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.