Learning that a loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home is a nightmare nobody wants to experience. It is unfortunately true, however, that many elderly residents are victims of negligence and other forms of abuse. There are many physical, behavioral and mental symptoms that may indicate this is occurring, but once the issue comes to light, you might be wondering who exactly to go to.

There are a number of resources available in such situations, but it is necessary to know who your first contacts should be. The following three are the most important people and authorities to get in touch with immediately following the discovery of any nursing home abuse.

Law enforcement authorities

According to ABC News, more than 25 percent of all nursing home abuse cases were not reported to the authorities. Anyone who knows of an incident which results in harm to a victim should report it to law enforcement right away. In addition to legal and professional implications for the party or parties responsible, there are typically criminal consequences for serious cases resulting in injury. Police will be able to handle the case and file charges if necessary.

A legal representative

If your loved one is a victim of abuse in a nursing home, you might not think that a legal representative is necessary—you are the innocent party, after all. Hiring an attorney is, in fact, a wise choice in this scenario. You may need to prepare to take legal action, and doing so may even be a necessity to recoup expenses associated with your loved one’s recovery.

State health authorities

Abuse and negligence are serious offenses that the health authorities in your jurisdiction need to know about. Staff in nursing homes typically must hold a license or certification of some kind, and it is imperative that the governing authority receives information about any infraction which should affect caregivers’ credentials. The state nursing board generally receives complaints involving suspected abuse.