You have perhaps heard that Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” has released another book, “Go Set a Watchman,” in what is widely considered to be the publishing event of the century.
What you might not know is that Harper Lee is now 87 years old, in a nursing home, and battling her former agent, Samuel Pinkus. She alleges that he took advantage of her in her declining years, and swindled her into signing over the royalties from “Go Set a Watchman” over to her.
What this illustrates is that anyone at all, even so respected a person as Harper Lee, can be the victim of elder abuse.
If Harper Lee is correct in her allegations, then she is a victim of financial abuse that has occurred within her nursing home. Of course the elderly can also be victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse. These types of abuse can involve physical battery, unnecessary or excessive restraint, isolation, verbal torment and humiliation. Sometimes it’s abusive treatment on the part of nursing home staff, but in other instances it can be perpetrated by visitors that staff and management allow into the home. Samuel Pinkus is the son-in-law of a close friend of Harper Lee, and he was permitted access to her.
The definition of elder abuse, under both Alabama state law and federal law, includes any physical or mental injury, up to and including death, that is caused by the actions or failure to act of any other legal entity – this would include individuals as well as nursing homes. Neglect is also a form of abuse.
Signs of abuse include not just broken bones or bruises, but sudden changes in the physical health or mental condition of the resident. Any of these signs must be immediately reported. In fact, if you suspect abuse, the law of the state of Alabama as well as the government of the United States unequivocally requires you to report it. If you suspect abuse, and you don’t report it, and it turns out that there was in fact abuse, you can be considered every bit as guilty as the actual abuser.
If you are being abused in your nursing home, or you suspect that someone you love is being abused, you have a duty to act, even if the level of abuse isn’t life-threatening. In Alabama, you can contact the Alabama Department of Public Health. You may also want to consider contacting a qualified nursing home abuse attorney.
Elder abuse attorneys work to help the elderly who are being abused in nursing homes. If someone you care about is being abused in a nursing home in Alabama, an attorney can help to stop the abuse and to help the victim obtain compensation for pain and suffering, including medical bills, and in the worst case scenario, burial expenses. Often such cases don’t even go to trial – nursing homes are often very willing to settle out of court.
Of course nursing homes and their attorneys are going to make every effort to prove that no abuse occurred, or that if it did, the consequences were minimal. Nursing homes will bring all the expertise of their high-powered legal teams to work against you. They know the laws in the state of Alabama, and they know exactly what is and isn’t required of the nursing home. In order to protect your rights, or those of your loved one, you need to make sure that you retain the services of an attorney who knows exactly how nursing homes in Alabama are monitored, and how to protect your rights if they are violated.