Nursing homes are in charge of caring for our elderly loved ones when they become too fragile to care for themselves. In the United States, more than 3 million people are admitted to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Each facility must use the appropriate standard of care for all residents. However, many fail to meet this goal which sometimes results in nursing home abuse. This article discusses the different types of abuse that occur in nursing homes, the signs to look for so that you can protect your loved ones, and what to do if you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated.
Common Types of Abuse
While there are a variety of ways seniors can become victims of mistreatment in a nursing home, some are more common than others. The most common types of abuse in nursing home residents include:
- Medication Mistakes
Many cases of nursing home abuse are due to over medication of residents who are undergoing treatment for stress, anxiety, and memory problems. There have been reported incidents where doctors prescribe higher doses of drugs to manage a patient easily.
Neglect, which happens in many nursing homes today, comes in different forms and shapes. Failure to provide the appropriate standard of care is a form of neglect. When a nursing home facility fails to meet the residents’ basic needs (e.g. food, water, medicine, baths and proper assistance), they are at risk of getting injured, becoming more ill, or developing other health problems.
- Physical Violence
As difficult as it is to believe, many elderly experience physical abuse in facilities which are supposed to keep them safe. Physical abuse may include pushing, hitting, pinching, or the use of excessive force to restrain residents. The National Center On Elder Abuse states that physical violence and abuse account for 25 to 30 percent of all elder abuse cases.
- Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse includes inappropriate touching, penetration, or verbal sexual harassment. While nursing home personnel are more associated with this type of nursing home abuse, residents can also sexually abuse other residents within the facility.
- Financial Abuse
Financial exploitation occurs when residents are pressured into giving staff monetary gifts. Other forms of financial fraud and abuse include stealing the resident’s credit card information, over-charging or double-billing for medicines/services, and charging for tests that were not carried out.
What Are The Signs Of Abuse?
It is not always easy to recognize signs of elderly abuse. Here are some of the signs that may indicate your loved one is being abused:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased anxiety levels
- Testing positive for sexually transmitted diseases
- Withdrawal from fun social events or activities
- Refusing to visit with family
- Bruising with no explanation
- Poor hygiene
- Diminished alertness
- Unexplained fractures or broken bones
- Palpable tension between a resident and a particular caregiver
- Excessive thirst
- Unusual financial transactions
- Hair loss
- Sudden change in the resident’s will
- Fear of another resident
- Bed Sores
- Wounds or cuts
What To Do If You Suspect Abuse
Report the situation immediately if you suspect that your loved one is experiencing abuse in a nursing home. Talk to your loved one’s caregiver or arrange to speak with the administrator of the nursing home facility and ask for an investigation to be conducted.
It’s also a good idea to seek the help of a lawyer to guide you on what steps to take in filing a nursing home abuse case. A lawyer will be able to examine your case and provide directions on how to proceed with filing claims. Hiring an experienced nursing home mistreatment lawyer is the best way to obtain proper compensation for your injured loved one.