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Understanding elder neglect in West Virginia

Like others throughout the country, most West Virginia residents have personally experienced the need to care for an elderly relative or know someone who has. The challenges involved in taking care of an aging parent, grandparent or other relative are many. When family members do not live near their relatives, an additional level of problem can be added because of the limited ability to check on loved ones in person. With a great many reports of neglect at nursing homes and other care facilities, people have good reason to be concerned.

Understanding what elder neglect is and how to deal with it is important for anyone in West Virginia in the position of caring for another adult. The National Center on Elder Abuse indicates that neglect is another form of abuse. When someone responsible for providing an incapacitated adult safety protection, medical care, nutrition and shelter fails to provide any of those things, neglect may be asserted.

According to the West Virginia Legislature, any negligent act must also be characterized by the unreasonable failure to deliver needed care or services. Neglect can also involve an elderly person's money being taken or spent by a caregiver in a manner not otherwise authorized or reasonable. Persons may be deemed to be incapacitated due to physical or mental limitations that bar them from taking care of themselves on a daily basis.

Suspected elder neglect should be reported to Adult Protective Services, an agency within the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Warning signs may include changes in behavior or relationships as well as physical signs of harm.

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