Nursing home facilities should be places where your beloved elderly relatives are treated with care, respect, and dignity. All nursing home residents should be safe, receive proper medical care, and be encouraged to stay active, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, reality shows a totally different image of nursing homes. Many frail and helpless elderly persons suffer from nursing home neglect or abuse. If you suspect a loved one is subject to such inhumane treatment, a skilled and compassionate nursing home abuse lawyer at Wright & Gray law firm is ready to help you find justice for the abused person and yourself, as well.
We believe that no form of abuse should be tolerated and that families should take a proactive stance in reducing the number of nursing home abuse cases. Whether it’s neglect, physical abuse, or financial abuse – any kind of mistreatment of an elderly person should be exposed and the perpetrators pursued to the maximum extent of the law.
What Are the Accepted Definitions of Elderly Abuse?
Many relatives wonder if they really have a case and if they can hold nursing home facilities and their staff accountable. For some of them, the term abuse is not clear – where there are no physical signs of injury, such as bruises or broken bones.
For this reason, we shall resort to two leading authorities on this matter to help you understand how to analyze the environment of a nursing home and identify various types of 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 older person”.
In our country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a more specific definition of elder abuse:
“Elder abuse is an intentional act or failure that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. An older adult is someone age 60 or older. The abuse occurs at the hands of a caregiver or a person the elder trusts.”
Thus, elder abuse can be defined both as an action and as a failure to act, resulting in harm to the elderly person. Harm can come in several ways:
- emotional or psychological
- through neglect
How Widespread Are Instances of Nursing Home Abuse?
Unfortunately, elderly residents of nursing homes become victims of the staff that should care for them in far too many instances across the globe and in the US. The WHO reports that:
- 1 in 6 people over 60 across the globe experience a form of abuse in a community setting
- 2 in 3 nursing home staff members reported having committed abuse
The most prevalent types of abuse in a nursing home setting are:
- 33.4% psychological abuse
- 14.1% physical abuse
- 13.8% financial abuse
- 11.6% neglect
In the United States, the findings are just as troubling. According to the US Justice Department, caregiver neglect is one of the most prevalent under-reported types of abuse – only 1 in 57 cases being notified to authorities. Also, 1 in 10 US elderly persons experience a form of abuse each year.
Our state is not an exception to these unsavory statistics. Nursing facility residents are neglected due to a lack of trained staff and inadequate amenities. Thus, according to Nursing Home Abuse Guide:
- only 8% of nursing home employees are Registered Nurses or have higher qualifications
- 32 minutes per day is the average duration of nursing home care services the residents receive
- 14% of Louisiana nursing homes do not have the essential facilities required of a professional care facility
These Are 6 of the Most Common Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
How do you know that your loved one is not in a safe environment and treated with dignity and care? In many cases, the victims of abuse are too frail or too afraid to speak. This is why you should visit them as frequently as possible and take note of any potential signs of nursing home neglect and abuse.
For an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer, these are the top warning signs that an elderly person is a victim of abuse:
Bedsores, together with poor personal hygiene are clear signs of nursing care neglect. It means that the elderly person is left unattended in their bed. This type of abuse may also be accompanied by physical abuse, in the form of using physical restraints.
There is a wide range of abuse that does not appear to be the result of an action. Over-medicating to keep the person sedated is also a form of resident abuse. But bedsores are the most common visible sign of it. For this reason, you should always examine the back of your elderly loved one during visits. If the nursing staff tries to prevent it, be firm and do not give up.
2. Unexplained Weight Loss
If your elderly relative appears to lose weight from visit to visit, this can be a sign of malnourishment. You may also notice jaundice or extremely pale skin, as well as signs of dehydration (constant demands for water, dry mouth, dizziness, and unexplained tiredness).
This type of nursing home negligence is quite prevalent, as funds are divested from the residents’ daily meals to other purposes.
3. Fractured Bones
Elderly people are frailer and can get injured quite easily. This is why you brought them to a nursing home – to be looked after and protected. Any instance of broken bones must be investigated. Even if it is the result of a slip and fall, its still represents a form of abuse – neglect. The rights of nursing home residents are clearly not protected if they are allowed to wander unattended into areas with dangerous conditions where they could get injured.
4. Changes in Behavior
After a reasonable adjustment period, seniors in nursing homes should resume their usual daily activities, outlook on life, and behavior towards others. Emotional and psychological abuse in nursing homes usually results in significant changes in the person’s behavior and personality, such as:
- anxiety and depression
- withdrawal from hobbies and daily activities
- reduced self-esteem
- feelings of despair
- suicidal thoughts
There may be less obvious signs of abuse, which family members and close friends will notice. Whenever you believe something is “off” in your loved one’s behavior, consider looking into the possibility that they are victims of negligent nursing home staff.
5. Unexplained Bruises and Lacerations
Bruises are obvious signs of physical abuse, but they may also indicate sexual abuse. You should monitor your loved one closely and note if they also show signs of being ashamed or, on the contrary, act inappropriately towards staff. All nursing home abuse victims express their distress in a different way. Do not ignore their silent plea for help, even if you are not sure there is anything worth investigating.
6. Changes in Financial Arrangements
According to statistical data, each year US elderly persons lose an aggregate amount of $2.6 billion due to financial abuse. This abuse takes different forms:
- the residents’ valuables are stolen from their room by nursing home caregivers
- nursing home staff use their bank cards to withdraw money from ATM machines or make purchases
- nursing home administrators persuade the residents to give them power of attorney.
Thus, family members should monitor the financial affairs of their loved ones living in nursing care facilities carefully. Any unexplained transactions, new cards and accounts opened in their name, as well as changes to their financial arrangements (change of will, new living will, etc.) must be investigated.
If you notice any of these signs, reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer right away.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect any sign of neglect or abuse by nursing home employees, here are the steps to take:
- if the nursing home resident is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1
- document any visible signs of neglect or abuse (including soiled bedding, unsanitary living conditions, and signs of restraint) by taking photographs with your phone
- talk to your loved one privately about your concerns, persuade them that they can safely tell you anything
- report the abuse to Louisiana Adult Protective Services
- contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer at Wright & Gray
At Wright & Gray law firm, we combine experience, knowledge of the law, and compassion to assist victims of nursing home abuse and their families. We will pursue nursing home administrators and their staff for the economic and non-economic losses your family sustained due to their neglect and abuse.
Schedule a free legal consultation with us now and remember that we work on a contingency fee basis once we accept your case: 888-912-4944!