Elder abuse is a serious issue that exists in many long-term care facilities all across the nation. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60 and older have experienced some form of abuse that occurred within these facilities or that was inflicted by their caregivers and even family members [Source: National Council on Aging]. The National Center on Elder Abuse also reported that in 2014, 14,258 of the approximately 188,599 complaints that were submitted to the Ombudsman programs involved abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation that was occurring in long-term care facilities.
While the concern for nursing home abuse developed back in the 1970’s, that was a time when facilities were “relatively unregulated and had little oversight. “However, times have changed and nursing homes are being held responsible for their actions, to an extent. You see, aside from nursing home residents exercising their rights and taking legal action against facilities and workers, government agencies like Medicare are working toward holding these facilities accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, many cases of elder abuse still go unreported and many others are overlooked.
But, if you have a loved one living in a nursing home, it is important that you become aware of what their rights are as this can be used to support your case when one or more of these are violated. Below we share with you a brief list of what some of these rights are followed by some useful resources you can use if you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected.
What are a nursing home resident’s rights?
Nursing home residents have the right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect.
- Be informed in writing about services and fees before they enter the nursing home.
- Manage their own money or to choose someone else you trust to do this for them.
- Privacy and to keep and use their personal belongings and property as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.
- Be informed about their medical condition, medications, and to see their own doctor. They also have the right to refuse medications and treatments.
- Have a choice of their schedule (for example, when they get up and go to sleep), their activities and other preferences that are important to them.
- An environment more like a home that maximizes their comfort and provides them with assistance to be as independent as possible.
While these are only some of a nursing home resident’s rights, you can visit medicare.gov to read more about the others that apply to those who elect to live in ones of these facilities. When these rights are violated, there are certain measures a resident as well their family can take to either report the violation or a case of abuse if it is occurring.
Reporting Elder Abuse in New Mexico
When you suspect that an elderly individual is being abused, neglected, or exploited, you can contact the following hotlines/helplines to report it.
- You can call 866-654-3219 or 505-476-4912 if you suspect that elder mistreatment is occurring in the home. You can also call this number if you suspect that mistreatment is occurring in a long-term care facility by a perpetrator that is not employed by or under the supervision of the facility.
- You can also call 800-752-8649 when you suspect that abuse or neglect is occurring in a long-term care facility perpetrated by a facility employee, vendor under the supervision of the facility, etc.
Other Helpful Resources
- New Mexico Victim Services, which “is committed to offering resources and support to victims of crime and their families.”
- New Mexico Employee Abuse Registry “maintains a database of criminal record information and a registry of all caregivers screened through the Department of Health” so you can check to see if someone you suspect is committing elder abuse has done so in the past.
Another option you have when an elderly individual is being abused, neglected, or exploited is to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer in Albuquerque, NM. An attorney will not only be able to guide you in the right direction in terms of taking legal action, but also provide you with the representation you will need and want during this stressful time. USAttorneys.com helps nursing home abuse victims and their families find and retain legal aid for free so contact us today.