We have previously touched on the definitions of various types of mistreatment that can occur to the elderly by their caregivers. You may recall that these include abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment. When one suspects that one of these situations applies to a loved one, the emotions elicited can be very strong. So, to whom does one turn for help if one suspects that an older loved one may be the victim of some form of abuse?

The state of Connecticut has set up a program within the Department of Social Services (DSS) that exists to deal with reports of this kind. According to a brochure put out by the state DSS, this is called the Protective Services for the Elderly Program. They can be contacted by phone, and they will investigate reports of nursing home abuse or neglect.

When a report is made, a DSS worker will meet with the alleged victim and his or her family to attempt to determine what needs are not being met, and will, if necessary intervene immediately to protect the safety and health of the elderly person. The department says it focuses on helping the person retain his or her right to decide things affecting him- or herself, and safeguarding legal rights, along with making sure the victim’s health and welfare are not in jeopardy.

While a report to DSS is a good idea to get immediate help to someone you may suspect is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, there may be other ways to deal with the situation once the person is safe. One of these might be a lawsuit against the perpetrators of the abuse, whether it be individuals or an institution. The result of such a suit may be compensation to help cover any medical or other costs as well as for the pain and suffering experienced by the victim and his or her family.