Losing a loved one due to nursing home negligence or elder abuse is devastating to endure. Often accompanying the feelings of loss and outrage is a niggling sense of guilt that not enough was done to protect the vulnerable senior citizen.

But it can be quite difficult to identify signs of abuse and neglect in the elderly. According to the federal Department of Justice, it’s estimated that just one out of each 24 cases of elder abuse gets reported.

Dementia and other cognitive difficulties that make communication challenging can make it even harder to ascertain that an elderly loved one is at risk of harm from those tasked with providing him or her with daily care and treatment. But what if there were a way to identify those most vulnerable to instances of negligence and abuse?

It turns out there is. The Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI) can be a very useful tool for identifying and reporting signs of elder abuse. The EASI was designed to give medical professionals an easier way to identify those at high risk of elder abuse. Its six questions can alert doctors, nurses and/or social workers to suspicious actions or breaches that could lead to allegations of abuse by relatives or care providers.

Below are the questions:

1. Have you relied on someone for the following: meals, bathing, dressing, shopping or banking?

2. Has someone prevented you from eating, getting clothes, taking medicine, wearing assistive devices like hearing aids or glasses, obtaining medical care or socializing with those with whom you choose to spend time?

3. Have anyone upset you by talking to you in a threatening way or attempted to shame you?

4. Have you been coerced to sign documents or to spend money unwillingly?

5. Has someone made you fearful, caused you physical harm or touched you in ways you didn’t want?

The following can be asked of the physician in charge of your loved one’s care:

6. In the last year, have you noticed any of the following in your patient?

  • Withdrawn affect
  • Poor eye contact
  • Malnourishment
  • Problems with hygiene
  • Bruising
  • Cuts
  • Inappropriate clothing
  • Problems with medication compliance

Even a single “yes” answer can and should raise red flags and trigger further inquiries. Intervention can avert a tragedy befalling your elderly loved one.

Source: FindLaw, “What Is the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI)?,” accessed March 30, 2018