Law enforcement officials are often in a unique position to recognize signs and symptoms of elder abuse in the San Diego area. Yet, as an article from In Public Safety points out, police officers frequently are not sufficiently trained in recognize nursing home abuse and neglect, and as such they inadvertently miss the symptoms that could help to prevent future injuries and, in some cases, deaths. Since nursing home abuse cases also can coincide with calls concerning assault and domestic violence, it is important for law enforcement officers to be trained to recognize the signs of elder abuse.
Getting Law Enforcement Officials in California Involved in Elder Abuse Awareness
One of the first things we can do, the article suggests, to change the ways in which police officers evaluate whether someone has been the victim of elder abuse is to require specific training about nursing home abuse and neglect. In our state, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) does have required training for mandatory reporters, but not all law enforcement officials understand the extent of elder abuse in the community and the ways that we can work together to help prevent it.
What can we do to help law enforcement officials in Southern California to become involved in elder abuse prevention and awareness in their communities? According to a tip sheet from the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA), the following can help law enforcement officers to get involved:
- Participate in community forums that address nursing home abuse and neglect, emphasizing that you are an advocate for the elderly community in Southern California;
- Encourage specific law enforcement training programs that are linked to the various forms that elder abuse takes;
- Learn more, on your own, about special needs often presented by elderly California residents, particularly those suffering from a form of dementia; and
- Become an advocate for new policies and programs within the criminal justice system including, for example, specialized law enforcement units aimed at addressing and preventing elder abuse.
Investigating Possible Elder Abuse Situations and Interviewing Elderly Victims
Anytime a law enforcement officer is called to the scene where an incident of elder abuse may have occurred, the article emphasizes the importance of the following tips for identifying signs of abuse or neglect:
- When interviewing an elderly person, always conduct the interview one-on-one (or, in other words, without the elder’s family members present) regardless of what the elder’s caregivers might suggest;
- Conduct interviews with neighbors to learn more about the relationship between a senior and his or her caregiver;
- Interview the caregiver and be aware of language used that seeks to discredit the elderly victim (e.g., “the victim is old and confused” or “the victim is easily confused”);
- Pay attention to issues of hygiene in the elderly person’s living space; and
- Observe whether the senior has necessities for living, such as food, medications, and assistive devices (such as glasses or dentures).
If you ever have concerns about the safety of an elderly loved one, it is better to be safe than sorry. An experienced San Diego County nursing home abuse lawyer can answer your questions today. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about elder abuse awareness and prevention.
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