According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, as many as one in three elders in nursing homes are institutionally abused or neglected. Unfortunately, this number is likely even higher, since many cases of abuse and neglect go unreported. Victims of nursing home abuse and neglect often suffer in silence because they fear retaliation from their abusers or feel too ashamed to come forward. If you suspect that a loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, it’s important to speak up — read on to learn more about this issue and how our dedicated and experienced lawyers can help.
Protect Your Loved Ones with a Central Florida Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Attorney
At éclat law, we recognize the deep-seated desire to safeguard our families and understand the heartrending emotions felt when they face harm and are encountering nursing home abuse. Our compassionate and aggressive attorneys can help ease your — and your loved one’s — pain by investigating the situation and protecting their rights. We deliver client-focused solutions to empower your success by gathering evidence related to your case, analyzing relevant contracts, negotiating settlements with insurance companies, and representing you in court if needed. Please call us today at 407-636-7004 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation if you or someone you know has experienced nursing home abuse.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse denotes a wide range of inappropriate, illegal, and exploitative behavior that is inflicted upon senior victims by caregivers, visitors, or other nursing home residents. Abuse can take many forms including inadequate medical care, malnutrition, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation. Victims may be traumatized physically or psychologically as a result of their mistreatment. Because elder abuse is a persistent problem even today, it is essential to remain aware of the signs of all types of nursing home abuse and to act swiftly if any allegations arise.
Types of Senior Abuse in Nursing Homes
As the population of elder people grows, it is important to understand the different categories of nursing home abuse they can be subjected to. These include, but are not limited to:
Physical abuse involves the use of physical force or violence. This can include slapping, hitting, kicking, pushing, burning, striking with an object, or the use of unnecessary physical or chemical restraints.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is any form of unwanted sexual contact that occurs between a resident and an individual in the facility or another resident. It includes any behavior that is nonconsensual or coercive, such as inappropriate touching without the victim’s consent, taking advantage of someone with a cognitive or mental disability, or using physical force or threats. Sexual abuse can take many forms and includes not only physical contact but also verbal and visual sexual harassment.
Psychological abuse is the intentional infliction of mental anguish on an elder person. It can include derogatory name-calling, humiliation, intimidation, manipulation, and verbal assaults.
Emotional abuse is any action designed to control, intimidate, or belittle a senior. It may be verbal abuse in the form of ridicule, hostility, threats of harm, or blaming the elder for things outside their control. It may also be nonverbal, manifesting as control over what the victim eats, wears, and participates in, hiding the victim’s personal belongings, or isolating them from other residents.
Financial exploitation occurs when someone misuses an elderly person’s money or assets to gain financial advantage. These activities include stealing the resident’s money, forging their signature on checks and documents, using their credit cards without permission, pressuring them to change their will, or making them beneficiaries of a financial scheme.
How Is Nursing Home Neglect Different?
Nursing home abuse or neglect is a form of elder mistreatment that is different from abuse in that it may be unintentional. Neglect occurs when caregivers fail to provide an elderly person with the basic care they need, such as food and water, medical attention and medication, assistance with personal hygiene, or adequate supervision. In some cases, negligent behavior can even lead to serious physical harm or death. Those in charge of nursing homes must be held accountable for endangering the lives and well-being of residents, regardless of whether the mistreatment was intentional or not.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Because neglect can happen accidentally or more sporadically, it’s important to know what forms it can take. These consist of the following:
Nursing home abandonment occurs when a resident is left alone by their caregiver with no concern for their health or safety and without notifying their legal guardians or family. For example, a nurse cannot sleep or be intoxicated on duty, nor can they leave their unit without making sure that residents have adequate care coverage.
Neglect of Basic Needs
This means that nursing home staff are not providing the necessary care to keep their facility and its residents clean and safe. Neglect of basic needs includes not providing safe or enough food and water, keeping the facility at unbearable temperatures for residents, or failing to keep residents’ rooms and common areas clean and maintained.
Neglect of Personal Hygiene
In a nursing home, this can be defined as the failure to provide residents with adequate assistance or resources to maintain their personal hygiene. This can include not providing assistance with bathing, changing clothes, brushing teeth, or other basic hygiene needs. It can also include not providing access to appropriate supplies such as soap, shampoo, and clean linens.
Social or Emotional Neglect
This is when an elderly resident is not provided with sufficient attention or care in terms of social and emotional needs. This type of neglect may manifest in a variety of ways such as: not providing adequate companionship, ignoring signs of distress or discomfort, not allowing the resident to have meaningful contact with family and friends, or refusing to allow them access to activities and social interaction.
Self-neglect in a nursing home is the inability or unwillingness of an elderly person to perform everyday self-care tasks such as bathing, grooming, or eating. These activities are necessary for maintaining physical and mental health. It is the responsibility of caregivers to ensure that residents are taken care of — if self-neglect is occurring, it may indicate that the staff is not properly performing their duties.
Medical neglect is a serious issue that occurs when staff members do not provide an adequate standard of medical care. This includes failing to administer medication or treatment, improper medical care for existing health problems like diabetes or dementia, not regularly moving seniors with mobility issues, and not reporting signs of infections or illnesses to nurses or doctors.
Consequences of Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect can have serious consequences for elderly residents. Victims are more likely to suffer from physical injuries, psychological trauma, and emotional distress, leading to a marked decline in their quality of life, or even resulting in death. The financial impact of elder abuse can also be significant, with victims often facing the burden of costly medical bills and other associated financial losses. It is therefore essential that government authorities and healthcare providers take strict measures to ensure the safety and well-being of elderly individuals living in nursing homes to prevent nursing home abuse.
Identifying Signs of Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Homes
You should begin the process of recognizing potential abuse or neglect prior to selecting a home. Thoroughly review nursing homes before making a choice, taking note of potential issues with staffing levels, facility cleanliness, and activities offered. This can help you avoid facilities where residents may be exposed to abuse and neglect.
Once you’ve settled on a nursing home, you’ll need to check for certain warning signs while visiting your loved one that may indicate they are being subjected to abuse or neglect. While the following list is not exhaustive, it does contain some of the most common indicators:
- Bedsores or pressure sores
- Especially rapid weight loss
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Poor hygiene
- Dirty or soiled clothes and linens
- Bruises, cuts, burns, and broken bones
- Repeated falls
- Developing a sexually transmitted disease or infection (STD/STI)
- Bruises, sore, or marks on the genitals or inner thigh
- Engaging in inappropriate, unusual, or aggressive sexual activities
- Frequent illnesses, infections, or sepsis
- New, untreated, or worsening medical conditions
- Missing medication
- Significant mood or personality changes
- Increased signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses
- Changes in bank account activity
- Sudden changes to wills or other documents
- Loss of money or personal property
Tips for Discussing These Issues with a Loved One
Having a conversation with your loved one about potential issues in their nursing home can be daunting. It is important to keep a few key points in mind when having this type of conversation. First, approach the conversation respectfully and calmly, using language that doesn’t evoke blame or guilt. Avoid talking down to them and listen carefully without interruption. Make sure to explain any decisions that need to be made clearly and patiently so that your loved one can understand them. Also, remember that a successful outcome may require multiple conversations and lots of patience, both yours and theirs. With some understanding and kindness, you should be able to have a comfortable dialogue that will help resolve any problems your loved one might have in the nursing home.
Don’t Become a Silent Victim — Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation
Have you or a loved one suffered from nursing home abuse and neglect? At éclat Law, we understand the traumatic ordeal associated with nursing home abuse and neglect, which is why our attorneys are dedicated to standing up for you. We have the experience necessary to provide skillful legal representation throughout your case. Our team of seasoned professionals will assess your needs, determine if any wrongful negligence has occurred against you or your family member(s), and fight aggressively until justice is served. You deserve an attorney who will endure what it takes to represent these cases successfully in court and navigate through complex medical records and documents. With us, you can trust that your case is in good hands — we are a law firm committed to protecting your rights every step of the way. Call us at 407-636-7004 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation — get quality legal counsel from our accomplished attorneys in Central Florida today!