Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home facility is often difficult. When doing so, you expect that your loved one will be treated with dignity and respect; and you also trust that your family member will receive the medical and emotional care they need.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect can and does happen. If you have a loved one who has been injured from neglect or abuse in a nursing home, you may be able to take legal action. Take the first step and contact the elder abuse attorneys at The Meadow Law Firm to pursue justice for your loved one.
What is nursing home abuse?
Nursing home abuse happens when the actions or inactions of caretakers cause harm to residents. Of course, intentional harm is considered abuse; but there are times when unintentional harm meets the standard of abuse as well. Abuse often results in trauma, medical emergencies, and even death.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
According to the CDC, nursing home abuse can be divided into five categories. Understanding the different kinds of abuse can help you be aware of signs to look for when visiting with your loved one.
Physical abuse of a senior occurs when physical force or unnecessary restraint is used. These include cases of hitting, kicking, and shoving. In addition, inappropriate use of physical restraints can result in bruising and cuts.
Sexual abuse of a senior adult involves any unwanted sexual touch or penetration by a caretaker. Non-physical contact such as verbal sexual harassment can also be considered sexual abuse.
Psychological or Emotional Abuse
This kind of abuse happens when an older adult is subject to verbal or non-verbal behavior that causes them anguish, mental pain, or fear. Humiliation or disrespect from a caregiver or any kind of threats or harassment can cause distress.
Any unauthorized use of your loved one’s money by nursing home staff can be considered financial abuse. In addition, using their personal belongings or property is not acceptable.
Failure to meet the basic needs of any resident qualifies as nursing home neglect. Basic needs include food, water, shelter, hygiene, clothing, and necessary medical treatment.
Signs of Elder Abuse or Neglect
When you visit your loved one, there are some signs you can look for to help ensure they’re well cared for. It’s crucial to look carefully for behavioral changes as well as physical evidence. Note if a caregiver tries to hide injuries or limit family access.
An older person could also feel embarrassment or shame at what has happened. Some elders may also lack the verbal or mental capacity to describe the incident. Common signs of mental and physical abuse include:
- Bruises or burns on the skin
- Cuts, lacerations, and skin tears
- Fractured or broken bones
- Fatigue or insomnia
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Anxiety or depression
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Dirty bed linens
- Unexplained STDs
- Wounds or sores around genitals
- Missing money
- New accounts or credit cards
- Unauthorized transactions
Every case is different. The signs listed above can be indicators of abuse and should be taken seriously. If you cannot get satisfactory explanations from nursing home staff, you should consider calling the nursing home injury attorneys at Meadow Law.
How You Can Help
As the family member of an older person who is a nursing home resident, you want the best possible care for your loved one. There are some things you can do to help prevent nursing home neglect or abuse. Begin with the following steps:
- Learn the signs of abuse and look for them when visiting
- Regularly visit with your loved one
- Visit with nursing home staff and ask questions about care protocol
Nursing home staff and caregivers are held accountable when a family is involved in the care of their elder family members.
Problematic Signs in Nursing Home Staff Members
When visiting your family member, observe the actions and attitudes of nursing home staff. There can be indicators in their behavior that abuse or neglect is happening. Staff actions that might indicate abuse or neglect include:
- Failure to respond to requests for assistance from your loved one
- Improper administration of medications
- Lack of response to concerns about conflict between nursing home residents
- Poor attitudes or displays of disrespect toward residents
Noting these sorts of behaviors in nursing home staff is important. Also, keep a record of any injuries your loved one has suffered that cannot be explained. Detailed notes such as these can make reporting abuse easier.
When to Intervene
If you are the person responsible for the well-being of your loved one, it can be hard to know when it’s time to take action. You certainly don’t want to take a dismissive attitude about any signs of abuse or neglect.
If your loved one is telling you they are being abused, take the claims seriously—even if you’ve noticed no signs of abuse or they have a history of mental illness. At the very least, report the claims to the nursing home administration.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
If your family member has been abused or neglected, it’s vital to speak up on their behalf. Sharing your concerns with the proper authorities is a way to help bring about healing and justice. If you suspect abuse, you can contact the following organizations:
- Local law enforcement
- Adult protective services
- A long-term care ombudsman
- 911 (if your loved one has a medical emergency)
- A nursing home abuse lawyer
Oftentimes, seniors who are residents of a nursing home may not be able to speak for themselves. As a family member, you should hold caretakers responsible when you see signs of danger.
How to File a Claim Regarding Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
In most cases, you can file a lawsuit on behalf of your loved one who has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home. Most states have a statute of limitations concerning nursing home injuries. A qualified nursing home injury attorney can help you understand these laws and ensure you file suit in a timely manner.
For a nursing home claim to have merit, all of the following must be shown:
- The nursing home has a legal obligation to care for your loved one
- The legal obligation of care was not met
- The breach of care on the part of the nursing home resulted in injury to your loved one
An experienced nursing home attorney can help ensure your case is well-supported and that your loved one receives the justice they deserve.
Contact The Meadow Law Firm for Representation
If your loved one has been physically or mentally injured because of nursing home abuse or neglect, we can help. The elder abuse attorneys at The Meadow Law Firm can discuss your case with you to help you understand its merit and potential value.
We can assist you and your loved one through the entire legal process. We will handle settlement negotiations and represent your loved one in a trial if necessary. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.