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Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The decision to place your loved one in a nursing home is not easy. However, placing an elderly family member in a nursing home might be the only safe solution available in some scenarios.
The vast majority of nursing homes provide professional and compassionate care. However, the unfortunate fact is that elder abuse occurs frequently. Nursing home residents can sadly be the victims of physical harm, emotional abuse, and sexual assault and can even be financially exploited.
If you suspect that a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact the Nursing Home Law Center, LLC today for a free consultation at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free legal case review.
Our nursing home abuse attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been injured due to someone else's carelessness. We understand the laws that apply to these cases, and we help our clients pursue justice and receive the financial compensation they deserve.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don't have to pay us unless we recover money.What is Nursing Home Abuse?
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) defines nursing home abuse as "the intentional act or omission by a caregiver that results in harm or a risk of harm to an older adult."
Nursing home and assisted living facility abuse and neglect are common problems affecting thousands of seniors every year. Nursing home abuse can take many forms, but the most common types are emotional and physical abuse, financial exploitation, and sexual abuse.
Signs of nursing home abuse and neglect can be subtle and hard to identify, so family members should be well educated on the risks and symptoms of nursing home abuse.Statistics and Risk Factors for Elder Abuse
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines elderly abuse as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an elder person.
Nursing home abuse of the elderly is a significant public health issue.
Recent elderly abuse statistics released show the severity of the situation;
- Around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older have experienced some form of abuse
- The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the rates of elder abuse
- A report showed that 97% of nursing home abuse cases were not reported
- In a one year review, as many as 85% of assisted living facilities or nursing homes reported at least one case of abuse or neglect
- According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, between 7.6% and 10% of elderly residents were abused in the past year
- Rates of elder abuse are predicted to increase due to the rapidly aging population
- A report found that 2 in 3 staff members in care facilities have reported committing abuse
Specific Nursing Home Abuse Risk Factors in The Population
All nursing home residents are potentially at risk for abuse. However, certain population demographics are at increased risk for serious injuries.
- According to Justice Quarterly, women accounted for 67% of elder sexual abuse cases.
- A caregiver physically abused close to 8% of LGBTQ+ elders, and 9% suffered financial abuse.
- Disabled elderly adults are more likely to be abused.
- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) states that close to 50% of elders with mental impairments such as mental illness or dementia suffer from abuse.
- Veterans may suffer from illnesses such as PTSD, which puts them at greater risk of abuse.
Many different types of abuse can occur in nursing homes. Nursing home residents may suffer from physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse that causes significant harm, physical injuries, and death.
Family members should be aware of the signs of nursing home abuse.
Signs of Nursing Home Physical Abuse
Any intentional act or intentional infliction of injury that causes pain and suffering can be defined as physical abuse. Physical abuse occurs when nursing home staff act inappropriately in their treatment and handling of residents. Common examples of physical abuse include slapping, kicking, hitting, cutting, and bruising.
Warning signs of physical abuse include:
- Broken bones, especially a fractured hip
- Cuts or lacerations to the skin
- Unexplained injuries to the mouth or teeth
- Physical signs of injuries or unexplained bruises or welts on the skin
- Head injuries
- Hair loss
- Weight gain or loss and changes in appetite
- Torn or blood-stained clothing
- Signs of the use of excessive or improper restraints, such as strangulation marks on tissue
- Frequent illness
- Personal items such as glasses found to be broken
- Open wounds or bed sores and related infections
Signs of Nursing Home Emotional Abuse
Emotional and psychological abuse may be hard to detect in elderly patients as they might not be able to describe the situation, and there may not be obvious visual signs associated with physical forms of abuse.
Emotional abuse can be defined as any action that harms another person's psychological well-being and health. Emotional abuse inflicts significant mental pain and trauma in older adults and can be caused by staff yelling, threatening, humiliating, or intimidating an elderly resident.
Warning signs of emotional abuse include:
- Emotional withdrawal, including social isolation from other residents
- Changes in mental health such as the development of anxiety and depression
- Lowered confidence in everyday abilities and self-neglect
- Strange financial transactions that might be a sign of coercion
- Uncharacteristic aggressive behavior
- Talk of suicide or not wanting to live anymore
- Anxious behavior around particular staff
- Personal items going missing
Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse can be defined as any form of non-consensual sexual contact. Examples of this abuse include forced sexual contact, non-consensual sex, or forcing a nursing home resident into witnessing a sexual act.
A CNN report found that over 1,000 nursing home facilities received citations for mismanaging sexual contact abuse cases.
Warning signs of sexual assault and abuse include:
- Bruises or bleeding around the vagina or anus
- Bruises or welts on the breasts
- Blood-stained or torn underwear
- Genital infections or sexually transmitted diseases
- Venereal diseases
Sign of Nursing Home Financial Abuse
Financial elder abuse can be defined as using an elderly patient’s finances or other assets illegally or inappropriately. An example of this may be using credit cards, bank cards, or digital passwords without permission, borrowing money and not repaying it, or bullying the elderly person into gifting money, products, or possessions.
Healthcare fraud is another way nursing home facilities can abuse a resident's finances. A nursing home may overbill residents for services that were not provided or suggest unnecessary expensive medical services that result in kickbacks or rebates for the facility.
The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that two nursing home employees stole over $750,000 from a nursing home resident.
Warning signs of financial elderly abuse include:
- Unpaid bills
- Unexplained activity in bank accounts
- Sudden changes to a will
- Missing possessions
A nursing home is responsible for providing 24-hour care and assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. Nursing homes are regulated by the government and must adhere to specific quality and health care standards.
Nursing homes and assisted living centers have a duty of care to the residents and patients in the facilities. Nursing home neglect may be intentional or unintentional and has the potential to cause significant ongoing health complications.
There are many different forms of nursing home abuse and neglect that can cause trauma to nursing home residents.
Neglect of Basic Hygiene in Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home residents may not have the ability to care for themselves due to a lack of mobility or associated health conditions. They rely on nursing home staff members to assist them in performing daily hygiene activities.
Warning signs of poor hygiene and hygiene neglect include:
- Unwashed hair, unbrushed hair, or tangled beard growth
- Teeth or dentures that are not being cleaned properly
- Unclipped fingernails and toenails
- A soiled mattress
- Unsanitary living conditions such as a dirty toilet or bathing area
- Dirty clothes that smell
- Bad breath, strong body odor, and poor personal hygiene
- Frequent infections
- The development of bed sores or pressure ulcers
Nutritional Neglect in Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home residents often have specific dietary requirements and may have physical or mental health conditions that make feeding themselves difficult.
One example is dysphagia, a swallowing condition that can leave an elderly patient with an increased risk of choking if proper care and nutritional considerations are not provided.
Optimal nutrition and hydration are vital to the health of all nursing home residents and should be a priority for nursing home staff members.
Warning signs of nutritional neglect include:
- Physical weakness due to lack of nutrients
- Low levels of nutrients in the blood cause conditions such as iron deficiency
- Inability to fight infections due to lack of vitamins and minerals
- Frequent falls resulting in broken bones/fractures due to loss of bone density
- Dehydration of the skin due to inadequate fluid intake
- Decreased urinary output due to insufficient fluid intake
Medical Neglect in Nursing Home Abuse
Medical malpractice and neglect can be defined as negligence that occurs when a healthcare provider, such as a doctor or nurse, fails to meet the appropriate standard of care required, causing harm or injury to a patient.
Medical abuse in a nursing home can lead to ongoing health complications that cause unnecessary pain and suffering. If you suspect medical neglect seek professional medical advice immediately.
Warning signs of medical neglect include:
- Failing to diagnose or recognize a condition such as bedsores
- Mishandling a medical procedure
- Prescription of incorrect medication or dosing medication errors
- Failing to provide adequate post-operative care
- Using medicine as a chemical restraint, such as psychotropic medication to sedate the patient
- Neglecting to provide adequate attention to a patient’s condition
Emotional and Social Neglect in Nursing Home Abuse
The psychological well-being of facility residents is very important to their overall quality of life. Social and emotional harm caused by nursing home neglect and inadequate care can result in ongoing mental health problems in a nursing home resident.
Nursing home staff are there to protect and provide support to residents.
Examples of emotional and social neglect by staff members include:
- Failure to remain patient when communicating with the resident
- Not listening to the resident’s concerns or needs
- Not providing emotional support when the nursing home resident is in distress
- Not taking time to sit and offer companionship to the resident
Neglect of Safety Requirements in Nursing Home Abuse
Elderly people are generally placed in a nursing home or assisted care facility because the family feels that this is the safest option to live a healthy life.
The nursing home has a duty of care to keep the residents safe from harm and unnecessary accidents.
Common safety hazards in a nursing home that should be managed appropriately include;
- Risk of the patient falling - All available measures should be taken to avoid falls. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 95% of hip fractures are caused by a fall.
- Risk of the patient wandering from the facility - Residents with dementia or other conditions such as Alzheimer’s might unintentionally wander from the facility. Appropriate care and supervision need to be provided to ensure the safety of the residents.
Multiple factors can contribute to negligent care and nursing home abuse. A lack of adequate staffing, insufficient training, and inadequate supervision can increase the risk of nursing home abuse and negligence.
If you identify signs of nursing home abuse and suspect your loved one may be suffering harm, you must report it to the proper authorities. Adult Protective Services or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman are responsible for the safety and welfare of residents and ensuring nursing homes are meeting the required standards of care.
It is crucial to report all signs of nursing home abuse.How Do I Claim Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse?
If your loved one has been injured or you believe that they are at a greater risk for nursing home abuse and neglect, you must schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse attorney at a law firm right away to ensure that you receive the compensation you or your loved one deserve.
You may be able to hold the nursing home or hospital responsible and recover compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
Compensation can cover:
- Medical bills
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological distress
- Cost of the resident moving to a different nursing home
- Rehabilitation program expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral expenses
Contact the Nursing Home Law Center, LLC today at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers have many years of experience representing clients who have been injured due to someone else's carelessness. We understand the laws that apply to these cases, and we know how to help our clients pursue justice and receive the maximum compensation possible.
Our nursing home facility abuse lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. We aren’t paid until we win your case.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team during the free consultation and legal case review remain private through an attorney-client relationship.Resources: