Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing homes are meant to provide special care to elderly and disabled residents whose families can no longer care for them. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as some of them end up facing abuse. Most people put a lot of care into choosing nursing homes and assisted living facilities for their loved ones. Nevertheless, unthinkable events sometimes happen despite those best efforts. Working with an attorney specializing in elder abuse can help you find evidence of malicious behavior in a nursing home and hold the perpetrators accountable.
What is Nursing Home Abuse
Under the federal nursing home legislation of 1987, nursing facilities are frequently held to a higher standard. They must keep the residents secure and free of physical, sexual, verbal, and mental abuse. States have also enacted additional regulations. Elder abuse in nursing homes is unfortunately all too widespread. If you know someone in a nursing home, keep an eye on how they are treated. It would be beneficial to spot the indicators of elder abuse, get justice, and help recover from such traumatic events.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse refers to the mistreatment suffered by residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Most families trust that nursing homes will give their loved ones the care they can no longer provide. Unfortunately, sometimes the unthinkable transpires, and the residents of nursing homes face mistreatment or abuse that can cause serious injuries, mental problems, or even death.
Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can take many forms. Common types of abuse residents of nursing homes can suffer include:
- Verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Financial exploitation or abuse
- Social isolation
- Abandonment and malnutrition
- Sexual abuse or even sexual assault
How Often Does Nursing Home Abuse Occur?
The U.S. National Research Council reported that nursing home abuse and neglect have been widespread since the 1970s. Each year, thousands of complaints are filed. But despite its apparent prevalence, nursing home abuse is still widely misunderstood. Fortunately, facts and figures concerning elder and nursing home abuse help better understand this whole issue and its causes. Statistics on nursing home abuse provide snapshots of why it occurs, who is most vulnerable, and what needs to be done to stop the abuse.
According to information from the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), here’s how the various forms of nursing abuse are common:
- Physical abuse: 27.4%
- Resident-on-resident abuse (sexual or physical): 22.1%
- Psychological abuse: 19.4%
- Gross neglect: 15.3%
- Sexual abuse: 7.9%
- Financial abuse: 7.9%
Nursing home abuse is one form of elder abuse too, where seniors are concerned. It’s only one aspect of the more significant issue of elder abuse. According to the NCOA, about 5 million seniors are abused every year.
Despite this, not all nursing home abuse cases are reported, and investigators are trying to figure out exact numbers. This is made even more difficult because some elders are unable or unwilling to talk about their experiences.
What’s Behind Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can happen in any facility; however, some environmental and organizational factors increase the likelihood of the problem.
Not every nursing home can offer the same level of care. Some nursing homes don’t have enough resources (such as personnel) and supervision required to provide appropriate care to all inhabitants. Some facilities are persistently understaffed and may not be able to look after their many people.
Environmental and Organizational Factors That Can Lead to Abuse Include:
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities lacking adequate resources and reliable personnel can create a more considerable danger of exploiting the elderly. For example, continuous understaffing leads to stress, burnout, and animosity amongst employees, resulting in mistreatment and severe neglect. Negative attitudes of employees can make residents uncomfortable. Moreover, inadequate government and policies might make abuse undetected.
Nursing home employees sometimes lack the training required to deal with disobedient or disabled residents and do not provide the kind of care legally required and expected from them. When a nursing home’s staff is not adequately trained, it can lead to a patient’s injury, which is grounds for lawsuits.
Elders are more prone to mistreatment or abuse if they do not have family or close friends visiting them regularly. Through check-ins, friends and relatives can more effectively monitor for indicators of abuse or neglect.
According to the NCEA, the more the residents in a nursing home, the higher the risk of mistreatment or abuse.
Who Is at Risk of Abuse in a Nursing Home?
Nursing home abuse can happen to anyone who lives in an assisted living facility. However, certain people may be at a more significant risk than others. The following are some examples of risk factors that increase the likelihood of exposure to abuse in a nursing home.
Women are more prone than men to be mistreated and or abused. The NCVC discovered that women filed 66 percent of elder abuse complaints.
The lower socioeconomic level has been linked to elder maltreatment, according to researchers. For example, older people who depend on Medicaid to pay for nursing home care are likely placed in lower-quality homes.
According to the NCEA, people who’ve been abused or have suffered traumatic experiences in the past are highly likely to suffer abuse again.
According to the NCEA, poor physical or mental health may raise the risk of abuse. Those who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are especially prone to mistreatment. According to the NCOA and NCEA, approximately half of all elders with dementia are abused or neglected.
Who Are the Perpetrators?
Anyone can commit elder abuse; not just the nursing home staff, even family members and friends, are the most common culprits. If you work in a nursing home and witness families or friends abusing their loved ones, you must report such cases.
Nursing Home Employees
Employees who are exhausted, frustrated, or manipulative may cause harm to the residents in their care. A WHO study released in 2020 found that more than 64% of staff members working in nursing homes committed some form of neglect or abuse.
The Nursing Home’s Other Residents
Staff personnel aren’t the only ones to be concerned about in nursing homes; other people living in the facilities are just as capable of abusing their fellow residents. Resident-to-resident abuse can take any form. For example, in 2021, a nursing home resident whose criminal record included sex crimes assaulted another patient multiple times. Moreover, the nursing home management was at fault for not reporting the assaults to the police.
A high percentage of elder abuse cases involve family members. Six out of every ten elder abuse cases are caused by relatives, according to the NCOA. Sixty-six percent of perpetrators are spouses or adult children. Elder mistreatment is more likely to occur if an elder has mental health or substance abuse issues.
If your friend or family in a nursing home suffers abuse from other residents, this is grounds for a third-party responsibility claim since the nursing home must make its space safe for all residents.
Tell-tale Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Regarding elders or other loved ones in nursing homes, learning to recognize signs of abuse is important. It can help quickly bring the mistreatment to an end and spare your loved one’s major trauma or even death. It also comes in handy in the case of elders with dementia or those who are afraid to speak up; you can be the person to help them out of the situation.
Signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical Injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Head injuries
- Unexplained bruising
- Sprained joints
- Burns or bruises
Signs of Emotional Abuse
- A sudden shift from normal behavior
- Sudden loss of interest in social activities
- Caregiver imposing isolation and denying family or friends visitation
- Verbally aggressive, demeaning, or uncaring caregiver
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Diagnosis of an STD and absence of sufficient explanation
- Swelling, bruising, or other trauma around the genitals
Signs of Neglect or Abandonment
- Medication not being administered
- Deteriorating personal hygiene
- Unexpectedly dirty living spaces
- Soiled clothing and or bedding
- Lack of electricity, heat, or water
Signs of Financial Exploitation
- No longer able to pay bills which they had no problems paying for in the past.
- Giving excessive or unexpected gifts, especially to strangers
- Surrendering control of financial affairs to caregiver
- Inability to account for personal financial transactions
Signs of Healthcare Fraud
- Apparent, unnecessary medical treatments or purchase of tools
- Excessive diagnostic testing and or treatments
- Billing insurers for medical services that were not provided to the patient.
Consequences of Nursing Home Abuse
Be it a senior or disabled loved one; nursing home abuse can be devastating and cause many pain and financial harm.
The Health-Related Costs of Nursing Home Abuse
- Elder abuse increases the chances of death by 300% in victims
- Nursing home abuse increases hospitalization by three times
- Abuse can cause disabilities and future medical issues
- It leads to depression and other mental problems
Economic Consequences of Nursing Home Abuse
- Nursing home elder financial abuse contributes to the more than $37 billion lost every year through elder financial abuse.
- Annual medical costs to treat injuries due to elder abuse are upwards of $5 billion.
What To Do in Case of Nursing Home Abuse
If you or someone you know is a victim of nursing home abuse, it’s your responsibility to bring the mistreatment to an end and see that the perpetrators are held accountable.
Many nursing home abuse cases happen behind closed doors, and if the victim is afraid to speak up, they go on for a long time. According to NCVC, for every case of elder abuse brought to light, 24 others are not.
Reasons for low reporting include:
- Physical or mental impairments: issues like dementia, blindness, deafness, etc., make it harder to identify perpetrators and file reports.
- Fear of retaliation
Therefore, it is crucial for loved ones to constantly check the well-being of their loved ones in nursing homes and, if required, report the facilities’ abuse.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect nursing residence abuse, you have various options:
- Call 911 if the person is in immediate danger; their health should be your primary priority.
- File a report with the local, state, or national authority: every state has an APS program, a long-term care ombudsman with volunteers that assist families in confronting potential incidents of nursing home abuse.
- You can call the police.
- Work with nursing home abuse attorneys to seek financial compensation and justice for their loved one’s injuries.
- Remove your loved one from the facility if necessary.
Reporting nursing home abuse is an essential first step. You hold the nursing facility and the offenders accountable by bringing the misstatement and exploitation to light. This can result in positive change and save other families from suffering the same pain.
How Will a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help You?
Victims of nursing home abuse may suffer injuries that necessitate medication. No matter your financial situation, you and your loved one are owed justice. You must contact a nursing home abuse attorney immediately because, depending on where you live, you may be required to file the complaint within a specific time limit.
A nursing home abuse attorney can help you:
- Gather statements, documents, and medical records to support your case
- File a legal claim for financial compensation
- Bring the perpetrators to justice
Do you suspect that your loved one in a nursing home is facing abuse? Get in touch with our lawyers today. We are not just general attorneys; we are specialized in nursing home abuse cases. We have the experience and resources to handle such cases adequately. We will help you report the situation to the relevant agencies, follow up with the local law enforcement authority and discuss additional legal procedures that may be appropriate. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out more.
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