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Geriatric Abuse
With the rising incidents of nursing home and elder care neglect or abuse, there are viable options to protect your loved ones and the loved ones of others that have been entrusted into the care of others. Too often, aggrieved loved ones are left feeling helpless, angry, responsible and ultimately reliant upon a criminal justice system that is ill equipped to singularly mitigate concerns relative to the care and treatment they believe their loved ones received or did not receive. Accusations and false allegations are often leveled against nursing homes and elderly care homes for any number of reasons; e.g., a genuine belief, enacting revenge, potentially achieving financial damages for personal gain via a lawsuit or ruining the reputation of the nursing home or care home.   

With current medical advances and the adoption of healthier lifestyles, people are living longer. Consequently, older Americans now comprise the fastest growing segment of the United States population. As a result of the sheer number of older Americans, the number of elder abuse cases will increase and the impact of elder abuse as a public health issue will grow. Recognizing this fact, we must become more diligent in our efforts to prevent this horrible abuse, so incendiary because it is perpetrated against the helpless in our society. The defenseless victims forced to suffer in silence. If your family member or loved one is suspected of being abused or neglected, the neglect/abuse should be immediately reported to the Charge Nurse, the Director of the facility and/or the Adult Protective Services Authority of jurisdiction. When abuse/neglect is suspected after death, the family member or loved one should fully explore the option of a medicolegal death investigation (see forensic pathology link).       

Elder abuse and mistreatment is a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a broad range of behaviors, events, and circumstances. Unlike random acts of violence or exploitation, elder abuse usually consists of repetitive instances of misconduct. It encompasses any act of commission or omission that results in harm or threatened harm to the health and welfare of an older adult. A partial listing of common examples of elder abuse is as follows:

   • Intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder by a  
     caregiver or other person who stands in a trusted relationship to the elder. 
   • Failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder's basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.
   • Physical abuse: any act of violence that causes pain, injury, impairment, or disease, including 
     striking, pushing, force-feeding and improper use of physical restraints or medication.
   • Emotional or psychological abuse: conduct that causes mental anguish including threats, verbal or  
     nonverbal insults, isolation or humiliation (it is important to note that some legal definitions require  
     identification of at least 10 episodes of this type of behavior within a single year to constitute  
   • Financial or material exploitation: misuse of an elderly person's money or assets for personal 
     gain (acts such as stealing money, social security checks, possessions), as well as coercion  
     (changing a will, assuming power of attorney also constitute financial abuse). 
   • Neglect: failure of a caretaker to provide for the patient's basic personal hygiene and adequate 
   • Sexual abuse: nonconsensual intimate contact or exposure or any similar activity when the patient 
     is incapable of giving consent. 

There are a number of factors that often play a role in elder abuse going undetected, underreported and unreported. The factors most commonly reported include: patient guilt or shame, fear, ignorance, fear of retaliation from staff/personnel, fear of retaliation from a reported suspect and/or fear of retaliation from employers concerned with image and reputation.

Detection, involvement and intervention by healthcare professionals in elder abuse are paramount. There are a number of pathological, sociological and cultural characteristics that perpetrators frequently tend to possess; e.g., being overworked, not well rested, stress related to caring for the elderly, stress related to the caregiver’s personal life, poor morale relative to the caregiver’s employer, pay scales relative to responsibilities and duties and/or alcohol or substance misuse. Any of these identified characteristics alone or in combination, may culminate in a caregiver’s expression of anger, antagonism or abuse towards an elderly person. A growing number of these abuses involve only subtle signs and have a great likelihood to go undetected and unreported. Consequently, it is incumbent upon healthcare professionals, nursing homes and personal care homes to heighten awareness, improve detection mechanisms and develop intervention procedures to eliminate any environment conducive for elderly abuse. Now more than ever before in the history of America, we are relying on nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living facilities and others to care for our family members and loved ones. 

America’s elderly population cannot simply be protected by the enactment of a law or by off site governmental protective service agencies. However, healthcare industry professionals can proactively address this growing concern by helping to make older adults less vulnerable by conducting random and/or tailored investigations to assess and/or evaluate the operational health of the facility, as well as the work related behavioral patterns of employees/personnel suspected of neglect/abuse.   

The National Intelligence Agency Inc. (NIA) provides comprehensive professional investigations and intelligence gathering services at elderly adult care facilities to include nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living facilities and/or hospitals. The NIA’s geriatric care services are structured to provide ownership and/or senior level management of elderly care facilities, a proactive investigative tool to address ever increasing concerns that lend themselves either positively or negatively to the operational health of a facility. Proactive efforts to effectively combat elder abuse in health care facilities serve to convey a genuine interest and commitment on the part of ownership/management to protect it’s population from such abuses. Such proactive efforts can be a meaningful tool to safeguard against false allegations made based upon ulterior motives to discredit or seek financial gain. Additionally, defending against false allegations from a proactive position that illustrates a documented history of independent and unbiased monitoring regarding the operational health of the facility will mitigate potential damages created by a rogue employee. 

Intelligence Gathering Operations  

A highly effective tool in discovering employees, staff or personnel who may no longer possess the temperament to care for, or be entrusted with the well being and life of our nations elderly adult population involves undercover or covert intelligence gathering operations. Uncovering incidents of nursing home and elderly care neglect or abuse by employees or staff members can now be independently investigated by trained NIA investigators. Investigations that involve clandestine operations are informative and conclusive by virtue of having an eyewitness and/or a verbalized admission. 

Contact the NIA for details regarding the execution of our clandestine investigations relative to elderly neglect and/or abuse.      
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