Nursing home abuse is a concerning situation that may impact many people in Louisiana. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the easiest thing to spot. In many cases, it takes a trained eye to spot the signs of elder abuse. The US Department of Justice defines elder abuse as an intentional act or failure to act in a situation where an elderly person may be harmed as a result of that action or lack of action. This definition extends to both individuals who have elderly persons in their household and those tasked with protecting elderly persons over the course of their stay in a nursing home. Unlike many other forms of abuse, victims of nursing home abuse may not show immediate signs of the damage this abuse has caused them. Neglect can come in many forms, from someone refusing to give them food over a long period to denying them basic needs. Some of this abuse may have obvious signs like an injury that may show up as bruises or broken bones. Elderly residents of homes may not be able to speak about their elder abuse for fear of running afoul of the home’s authorities. An elderly person in such a vulnerable situation would need to be rescued, but this can only occur if someone spots the signs of this abuse before it gets out of hand.
The Prevalence of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing facilities don’t have a very good reputation with many elderly persons. In many cases, they view the facility as a place that they have to go rather than where they want to go. Signing up an older person for a place in a facility is sometimes done out of necessity. It signals that the person is unable to take care of themselves and needs the help of the facility to manage their lives. Sometimes, it’s the lack of care that the children of the elderly individual can provide to them that forces their hand. In each of these cases, the elderly person isn’t willing to go to the home. Nursing home residents like this may want to create an issue where there is none, leading to the family wondering if there really is abuse going on or just an attempt by the elderly person to escape from their confinement.
As a person gets older, their ability to care for themselves degrades along with their ability to stand up to abuse. A person might be very headstrong and independent when they’re on their own, but in a controlled environment like a home, they become less confident about their place and their rights. Nursing home residents, therefore, worry about reporting their abuse to the home. Family members are the ones they can report to, but since they don’t trust their family members in some situations, it may be difficult for them to even speak out.
Doing Due Diligence Before Choosing a Home
There are hundreds of nursing home facilities in Louisiana. How do you know that the one you choose is the right fit for your elderly relative? One of the ways to do so is to look closely at the nursing home’s reputation and testimonies about it. The state grants a nursing home license to each facility to keep track of their activities. Sometimes, these homes are reported for abuse, and that report is logged on the facility’s permanent record. Nursing home staff should also be properly trained to deal with all the needs of an elderly patient. These facilities are responsible for their patients’ medication and health care needs.
Doing due diligence is more than just looking up a place’s reputation online. It also means visiting the facility to see their care quality. Going into a facility allows a family to see dangerous conditions that may exist within the facility. Baton Rouge nursing home owners might have testimonies written on websites that gloss over these parts of the facility. To avoid having a relative become a victim of nursing home negligence, you need to take the time to do your due diligence for these facilities. You are responsible for how they treat your loved one, so being vigilant is of the utmost importance to their well-being.
Signs of Elderly Abuse from a Home
Elderly abuse in a nursing home can occur in several ways. The families of Louisiana nursing home patients need to trust the staff. Unfortunately, not every facility has adequate nursing staff to deal with the demands of the facility. Geriatric nurses, in particular, are difficult for a facility to locate since the discipline requires years of training. The result is that these facilities replace their staff with individuals who don’t have proper training in the care of people. The result is a staff that is poorly equipped to deal with the demands of elderly patients. The staff might abuse their position, leading to abuse in nursing homes.
General Evidence of Abuse
There are some general signs that show up during the course of abuse that may warrant a deeper investigation by the family. If the family member in the facility displays significant changes in their behavior and attitude, this might be a sign that you should look closer at the facility’s treatment of its residents. It’s always vital that the family pay attention to the Louisiana nursing home lawsuits since they may point to previous abuse situations.
Physical Abuse Signs
Physical abuse signs may vary from facility to facility. Usually, elder abuse can have clear physical signs such as:
- Unexplained broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
- Poor delivery of medication, or medication not being delivered on time
- Signs of restraint or rough treatment such as rope burns on wrists or across parts of the body
- Bruising or scars on different parts of the body
- Inability to have alone time with the patient
These signs are a good example of how a Louisiana nursing home can manipulate an elderly person and hide the signs of abuse. Lack of timely medical care can lead to death in some cases, so finding out about this early on can help avoid this outcome.
Emotional Abuse Signs
Emotional abuse is overlooked in many cases, but it can have lasting psychological consequences for an elderly person. A person who is being abused emotionally won’t act the same way that they normally act around family. They might display fear and concern about their surroundings, not unlike a person with dementia. Sometimes, families mistake this sort of response for an early onset of the disease. Mumbling behaviors and regression into childhood, as demonstrated by thumb-sucking, sometimes show up as responses.
A more telltale sign of abuse comes from when the elderly person is verbally abused in front of others. Demoralization from this sort of behavior can lead to insecurity and fear within the individual. Controlling behavior from staff is also a sign of emotional abuse. Staff should be understanding and receptive to the elderly individual’s needs and emotions. By belittling a person or controlling them, the staff takes part in emotional abuse. Stopping this sort of behavior early on can have untold benefits for an elder who has to stay at the facility.
Neglect from Caregivers
When a person enters a nursing facility, the caregivers are supposed to take care of their needs. This includes ensuring that the elderly patients can access health care providers that will give them regular checkups as necessary. Unfortunately, neglect from caregivers manifests from time to time in several ways. The caregiver is supposed to always be present when the elderly person is in a public space. Leaving them unattended for an extended period of time counts as neglect. Caregivers also have a responsibility to ensure that the facility is well kept. Hazards that could lead to accidents need to be dealt with to ensure that the residents can’t harm themselves.
In colder weather, it’s the responsibility of the caregiver to dress the patient in warm clothing. Inability to do this also counts as neglect since it could lead to frostbite from dressing poorly. Additionally, ensuring that the patient’s room and bed are well-kept is a crucial responsibility for the caregiver. Soiled sheets of unchanged bedding over a long period are neglectful and could lead to infection or bedsores. Lack of proper nutrition or not being fed on time also stems from neglect. Rapid weight loss is a telltale sign of this type of neglect.
Sexual abuse is a sordid matter but one that happens in elderly care facilities. If an elderly person demonstrates signs and symptoms of an STD, it’s in your best interest to do more research into the situation. Bruising near the genitals or around other sensitive areas might be a sign that staff may be abusing a resident sexually. Stained, bloody, or torn underwear is another sign of this type of abuse and may constitute evidence if a nursing home abuse lawyer were to take the case. Vaginal or anal bleeding that has no other medical cause or is unrelated to a condition might also be a sign of this sort of impropriety.
In some cases, the type of abuse that elders face might have more to do with their existing assets and the value they have. Older individuals may fall prey to confidence schemes from staff, leading them to sign over cash or give gifts to them for attention or care. Keeping an eye on this type of activity means being able to access your elderly relative’s records. If there are curiously missing withdrawals from their bank account or missing money from their room, it could be a result of staff pinching those funds. Some banks allow individuals to add themselves to elders’ accounts, but it’s crucial that you keep an eye on who’s being added. Staff might encourage the patient to sign over their account control to them. Power of attorney agreements, life insurance, and estate planning should be done along with the elderly person to ensure that no one else can be added to these documents without the family knowing.
Extortion in some medical facilities may mean that the elderly person might be forced to pay for care even though it should be guaranteed to them. Many families think that they can avoid these issues if their elder is not well-off financially, but this doesn’t make a difference to unscrupulous staff who are looking to make a quick buck off their clients. If you’re concerned about the state of your elder care facility, give a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer a call. We’ll be glad to help you settle this issue once and for all.