What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is a common crime that victimizes millions of elders across the United States. In fact, a recent comprehensive review found that approximately 10% of the 50 million seniors living in the U.S. have experienced physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse.
Sadly, this number is likely an underestimation, as many instances of nursing home abuse go unreported. This is often due to some seniors’ inability to communicate their abuse effectively, or due to threats and intimidation on the part of their caretakers.
Read on to learn the warning signs of the various types of nursing home abuse and how to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
What’s Considered Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse occurs in long-term facilities including assisted living facilities or residential care facilities, and involves the physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse of an elderly resident. Nursing home abuse can be intentional or unintentional—also known as nursing home neglect.
We discuss the most common forms of nursing home abuse below.
This form of physical abuse involves the intentional use of force against a dependent adult or an elderly resident in a nursing home. Physical abuse may include hitting, slapping, kicking, and restraining the elderly person with the intent to injure them.
This form of emotional abuse involves intimidating or manipulating an elderly resident to make them feel insulted, humiliated, or threatened. Examples of emotional abuse include yelling, teasing, name-calling, and more.
This form of sexual abuse involves any non-consensual sexual act with an elderly resident. Examples of sexual abuse include unwanted sexual comments, touching, assault, and more.
This form of financial abuse involves taking monetary or financial assets from an elderly person without their consent, or manipulating the elderly person to transfer assets that they would not have otherwise done had they been in a healthy state of mind. Examples of financial abuse include taking cash or valuables from the elderly person’s room, withdrawing money from their bank account without their consent, forging their signature on financial documents, and persuading them to transfer money to a separate account.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
One of the most important ways to ensure your elderly relative remains safe and comfortable in their nursing home is to visit them regularly. During one of your visits, check for the following warning signs that typically hint at nursing home abuse:
The elderly person is acting more withdrawn, depressed, angry, confused, or forgetful.
The elderly person has unexplained bruises, bedsores, broken bones, cuts, and lacerations.
The elderly person has an unusual odor, stained or soiled clothing, and unsanitary living conditions.
The elderly person has an unsafe living environment, including the lack of a call button or marked exits.
The elderly person has unhealthy eating habits, including receiving food that’s prepared poorly or improperly, or not receiving meals on a regular schedule.
The nursing home has low staffing levels, and the staff often seems upset or distressed.
If you observe any of the aforementioned warning signs of nursing home abuse when visiting your elderly relative, bring your concerns to the attention of the facility’s staff. Your relative’s doctor may be able to check their charts, see what treatment they have received, and confirm or deny your suspicions.
If the facility’s staff denies your concerns but you still suspect abuse, it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Your attorney can launch an investigation into the matter and ensure perpetrators of nursing home abuse are held accountable for their actions.
If you directly witness abuse in a nursing home, contact the authorities. Local law enforcement will begin an immediate investigation and prevent any further abuse from occurring.
Can You Prevent Nursing Home Abuse?
While you cannot prevent every instance of nursing home abuse, there are certain measures you can take to ensure the home you choose for your relative is one that is safe and comfortable.
When touring nursing homes for your relative, make sure to take the following steps:
Sample the facility’s food. Make sure there is a wide variety of healthy options for residents. Check to see whether the food is prepared fresh or reheated from a pre-packaged form.
See what activities the facility offers. A good nursing home has a wide variety of fun and engaging activities in which residents can participate. Additionally, the facility should provide accommodations for disabled residents so they can participate in the activities as well.
Speak with staff members. Ask the staff members if they feel overwhelmed or stressed, and ask what their driving motivation is behind working at the nursing home. Do they care about providing a high standard of living to the residents, or do they just consider it a job to pay the bills?
Suspect Nursing Home Abuse? Contact Us Today
If you suspect your loved one has experienced abuse in their nursing home, our experienced personal injury attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere are here to help. Our senior partner, Stephen M. Garcia, has is a leader in the field of elder abuse litigation, and he has recovered millions for clients who have experienced abuse in their nursing home.
We know nursing home abuse can have a devastating impact on your loved one’s health and independence. Our team is here to help hold negligent parties accountable for their actions and to ensure the safety of other residents in the nursing home.
We encourage you to contact us today at (800) 328-2630 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.