Unfortunately, elder abuse is all too common. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that half a million people over the age of 60 are abused or neglected each year. While not all seniors live in nursing homes, many do. Nursing home abuse is a very real concern for the adults living there and their families who want them to have the best care possible.
Here’s what you need to know about abuse in nursing homes and how you can get help for your loved one.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
The most common forms of abuse in nursing homes include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and abandonment. The older a person is, the more likely they are to be abused. Nursing home abuse doesn’t get reported as often as it should for a few reasons:
- Healthcare professionals may not see the evidence in front of them, usually due to lack of proper training.
- The employees and/or facility have a reason to want to hide their actions and not get caught.
- The patient may not report it for fear of further retribution.
- The patient may not report is because they’re unable to communicate properly or there is a language barrier preventing them from reporting it.
Common forms of verbal abuse include swearing or yelling at patients or insulting them. Physical abuse might happen by pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, or hitting patients. In nursing homes, the most common form of abuse is often neglect.
Nursing home neglect occurs due to understaffing, bad hiring practices, or simply not caring about patients. The most common forms of neglect happen when patients do not receive proper care. This can be medical, mobility, hygienic, or nutritional care.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If someone you love is a patient in a nursing home, you may wonder how you can tell if they’re being taken care of, neglected, or abused. Listen to your family member if they tell you something has happened to them. Because an elderly patient may have some level of cognitive impairment or may not be able to speak, look for signs, too.
Poor hygiene. In a nursing home, patients should be clean and well taken care of. When they’re not able to do it for themselves, healthcare providers are supposed to help them. Not being properly dressed and having unkempt hair or nails and bad dental hygiene, as well as a lack of regular bathing are all signs.
Dirty living area. Just like their person, patients in a nursing home should have clean living conditions, too. If their clothing or bedding isn’t being changed regularly and their bathroom and kitchen areas aren’t sanitary, that’s a bad sign.
Not eating properly. As people age and when they become ill, it’s not uncommon to lose weight. But if your elderly family member is dehydrated, losing weight unexpectedly, or not eating properly, that’s a problem. Malnutrition and dehydration may be an indication they’re not receiving enough to eat or drink.
Loss of mobility. As your family member becomes older and frailer, they may lose some mobility. But it may also be an indication that they’re being left in bed too often and not being helped to move around for exercise or receiving help getting out of bed.
Unexplained injuries. Much like younger abuse victims, unexplained injuries are often a sign something is wrong. It may be a sign of neglect or a sign of physical abuse.
Emotional outbursts. If your loved one is angry, scared, resentful, or sad, especially with no explanation, this could be a reaction to abuse they’ve suffered in a nursing home.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you think someone you care about is being abused in their nursing home, contact Adult Protective Services immediately. You don’t have to be able to prove abuse in order to make a report. If you believe they’re in immediate danger, contact the local police, sheriff, or emergency services.
After you make sure your family member is safe, contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in nursing home abuse. You need someone who will investigate the abuse and make the responsible parties pay. Contact Ed Bernstein and Associates for a free consultation. We’re here to help you fight for your elderly family members who deserve only the best care.
Nursing home abuse is a very real threat among our elderly population. The institutions and facilities that are supposed to protect seniors may be the one causing harm. Know what abuse looks like and get help for your loved one and your family when you need it.