As the baby boomer population ages, more and more New Mexico families have difficult decisions to make. Whether one spouse is struggling to provide the necessary care for his or her mate or it is impractical to care for an elderly parent, some form of outside care is a likely choice. Depending on the level of needs of the individual and the financial resources of the family, residence in an elder care facility or some form of home health assistance are possible options. Unfortunately, neither choice ensures safety from the scourge of elder abuse.

Two recent government studies paint a bleak picture. The findings reflect a significant number of potential cases of elder abuse go unreported by both nursing care facilities and home aid workers who provide service under Medicare. This occurs despite the legal requirement to report any suspicion of neglect or abuse whenever it is observed. Making the matter even worse, many of the individuals are released back into the care of the facility once their immediate medical concerns are addressed.

There can be many reasons for elder neglect or abuse. Often, poor training of personnel or an insufficient number of caregivers for the number of residents is to blame. In other cases, other residents in the facility pose a risk of danger to more vulnerable fellow residents. Exacerbating the issue is the inability of many of the victims to communicate their fears and safety concerns.

Elder abuse may be in the form of physical abuse, mental abuse, psychological abuse, or financial abuse. In many instances, it is the family or friends of the abused individual who must act as that person’s advocate. An experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the complexities of elder neglect and abuse might offer counsel and guidance to protect the elder’s rights.