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Elderly abuse: What to know and who to call if you suspect your loved one is being abused

“We’re now on track for elder abuse to triple in the decade between 2020 and 2030," Elder Justice Project Lead Program Coordinator Jacqueline Pontello said.

HOUSTON — A family's disturbing allegations that nursing home employees physically abused their disabled grandfather got us thinking - what can families do to protect their loved ones who are in the care of others?

RELATED: Video shows 87-year-old patient being hit, kicked and dragged in Texas City nursing home

It’s a shocking statistic. A 2012 Michigan State University study determined that 1 out of every 4 people living in a nursing home suffered physical abuse.

“We’re now on track for elder abuse to triple in the decade between 2020 and 2030," Lead Program Coordinator for the Elder Justice Project Jacqueline Pontello said.

Pontello said it’s not often you see elder abuse caught on camera, but a Houston family said their 87-year-old grandfather ended up in the hospital after being assaulted by two nursing home employees.

“That is absolutely rare. This family did one of the most incredible protective steps by installing that Ring camera," Pontello said.

Pontello said signs of elderly abuse include frequent injuries, unexplained bruising, loved ones seeming depressed, confused, even isolated or they’re in fear.

“That their conversations with the care staff are not warm and positive and upbeat, but that they quit talking when one of those people comes in the room," Pontello said.

RELATED: 'They expect the best out of people' | HCSO starts new unit for crimes against elderly as they become more frequent targets

To help, you can call your local ombudsman, like Lisa Hayes.

“We’re advocates for nursing home residents, and basically the word 'ombudsman' means we speak for those who can’t," Managing Local Ombudsman for the Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging Lisa Hayes said.

Hayes said that when looking for a new nursing home, pay close attention to the staffing, smells and condition of other residents.

“We often use the phrase, 'don’t fall in love with the lobby.' A lot of facilities have lovely lobbies but that has nothing to do with the staffing and the care," Hayes said.

She said, if you want, you have the right to install a camera in their room.

“There is a Texas state law that allows it. There are some required forms, and making sure that the privacy of the roommate is protected, but we do encourage things such as video surveillance," Hayes said.

Lastly, you can file a complaint with the state, and you can do that by clicking here.

If you want to check a nursing home’s complaint record, both say Medicare.gov is a great tool. It gives each facility a rating and overview of past complaints and inspections. To visit that website, click here.

But remember, elderly abuse doesn’t only happen inside a nursing home. It can happen at home by a caregiver or even a family member. 

For more information on signs of elderly neglect or abuse, click here.

For information on preventing abuse, click here.


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