In Birmingham, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and surrounding locations, most allegations of nursing home abuse are investigated by the Alabama Department of Public Health. Local law enforcement may also investigate abuse allegations made against nursing homes or caregivers. However, state and even local agencies often have limited resources. A nursing home abuse attorney knows that this makes it difficult to get a clear picture of when abuse was occurring and of the types of abuse faced by the victim.
Elder Abuse Investigations
Nursing home abuse cases can be complicated to investigate. Recently, Slate took a look at what could be involved with an investigation into elder abuse.
Slate's article was focused on allegations that were made to the state of Alabama suggesting that famous author Harper Lee had been the victim of elder abuse. The allegations claimed that Lee was being exploited and that she was not capable of making decisions any more because of her current frame of mind.
The Alabama Securities Commission undertook an investigation to try to assert whether the author was in full control of her mental facilities and thus able to make the decision on whether to publish a book she had written a long time ago called Go Set a Watchman.
The problem is that the question of competency can be murky when it comes to assessing whether a senior is of sound mind. The director of the Institute of Gerontology warned that there are many situations where older people are branded as incompetent, even if they aren't.
A multi-step process may be required to determine if a senior is being victimized by financial elder abuse or other types of elder abuse. When there are questions about whether the senior is of sound mind, there may be a lengthy test administered to assess cognitive function. The test can address everything from problem solving to spatial awareness to language and problem solving.
Another important factor is whether the senior may have been unduly influenced or essentially pressured or tricked into making a certain financial or other decision. This involves a close look at what types of active steps an alleged influencer took to try to get the senior to do, or not to do, something. Understanding whether a senior may have been manipulated can also involve looking at the nature of the relationship between the senior and the alleged abuser and whether there are ways the senior could have been exploited.
While Slate's article was specifically focused on identifying financial abuse of seniors, investigations into physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect, can also be equally lengthy and complex, especially when a senior is not able to speak for himself or herself.
Some states have taken steps, or are taking steps, to try to make it easier for investigations to occur and legal action to be undertaken in cases of suspected abuse. Oregon Live, for example, reported that the Legislature may fund a new state prosecutor focused exclusively on prosecuting elder abuse cases.
In most situations throughout the country, however, seniors who are potential abuse victims are not going to have a state-funded professional there to look out for them. Abuse victims need to get help from an experienced attorney who will fight for their rights.
Victims of Birmingham, AL nursing home abuse should consult with a personal injury lawyer at Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC. Call 866-583-1885 today. Serving Birmingham, suburbs of Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills and surrounding locations.