Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Don’t Think Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes is All That Common? Think Again…
Did you know that as many as 1 in 6 elderly persons in nursing homes are victims of some form of abuse or neglect each year? While nursing homes are supposed to be a safe haven for your elderly loved ones to receive the care they need, studies have found that many facilities fall short of your expectations.
The National Center on Elder Abuse defines elder abuse as:
Elder mistreatment (i.e. abuse and neglect) is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.
One of the most difficult aspects of elder abuse is that it is extremely difficult to collect accurate statistics on just how many people are affected by it. Sometimes caregivers fail to realize what’s going on and, therefore, fail to report the abuse. Sometimes the victim doesn’t report it due to a lack of cognitive awareness or simply fear of what speaking out will do.
Types of Abuse
Elder abuse can take on different forms including physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and false imprisonment. Elder abuse in nursing homes can also come from different people. Nursing home staff members are not the only culprits – sometimes the abuse can come from other residents or even from family members.
While you’re probably familiar with the basic definitions of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, you may not be as familiar with some lesser known (and less obvious) types of abuse that can happen to your loved one in a nursing home.
- Financial Abuse – Financial abuse can come in several different forms, but some examples include: nursing home staff stealing possessions or money from a resident, a staff member stealing banking information from a resident, or a nursing home charging false fees to the resident.
- Neglect – Neglect can be difficult to detect or prove in some cases, but if neglect goes too far, it can turn into obvious physical abuse. An example of neglect would be if a resident needed assistance eating and the nursing home staff was only providing the food but not the help, thus starving the resident.
- False Imprisonment – This type of abuse happens when nursing home staff keep a resident from leaving their room or some other area of the nursing home.
- Sexual Abuse – While awful to think about, sexual abuse in nursing homes is far too common. Nursing home patients are in a particularly vulnerable situation, making them more susceptible to sexual assault.
Signs to Watch For
Obviously, there are going to be different signs for different types of abuse, but the most important thing is to just be observant. If there are any sudden changes in physical appearance, such as an abrupt drop in weight or unexplained bruises and broken bones, those are definite warning signs that physical abuse is occurring. If you notice a lot of activity and changes in your loved one’s bank account and financial situation, financial abuse could be a possibility. Don’t be afraid to ask for clear explanations of these changes and research what’s really going on.
We are not advocating that all nursing homes or nursing home staff are bad, but elder abuse in nursing homes is a serious problem that should be cause for great concern. The Nursing Home Abuse Guide lays out facts about just how common it is:
A congressional report showed that an examination of nursing home records conducted over a two-year period showed that nearly 1 in 3 nursing homes were cited for violations that had the potential to cause harm and almost 10 percent of all nursing homes have violations that caused actual harm, serious injury or placed them in jeopardy of death.
In addition, residents who are victims of elder abuse are 300% more likely to die within 3 years than those that are not abused.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from some type of elder abuse in their nursing home, take action. Since lawsuits against nursing homes can be difficult, contact a skilled personal injury law firm specializing in these types of cases to explore your legal rights.