As the population gets older, more Americans reside and receive care in nursing homes. You want the best possible care for your friends and relatives, and it’s disheartening to suspect that they may not receive the loving treatment they deserve.
Here’s what you need to know about nursing home abuse, including the various types of mistreatment, signs of abuse, and what you should do if you suspect abuse.
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
You may have a pre-determined image of what nursing home mistreatment entails but abuse actually takes several different forms. Physical abuse occurs when a nursing home employee intentionally hits, pushes, or trips your loved one. Sexual abuse involves taking advantage of the resident for sexual purposes, either via force, trickery, or manipulation.
Mental or psychological abuse is another form of abuse; staff may verbally degrade the patient, or they might intentionally withhold items or communication with friends and family members.
Neglect is another type of abuse that can occur intentionally or unintentionally. Staff may deliberately withhold care from their patients (such as ignoring residents when they use their call buttons), or they might inadvertently fail to provide the care the resident reserves due to lack of resources, knowledge, or adequate staffing.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Whether you’re able to see your loved regularly or sporadically, it’s important to recognize potential signs of nursing home abuse. If your loved one has a lot of bruises or has unexplained injuries (like broken bones or burns), this can be indicative of physical abuse. The sudden development of an STD or pain around the genitals are possible signs of sexual abuse.
There are multiple indicators that may signal the staff is neglecting your loved one’s care. The appearance of bed sores and ulcers might mean that your loved isn’t receiving the help they need to get out of bed and tend to their personal hygiene. An unkempt appearance and dirty clothing are other possible signs of neglect.
Nearly every type of abuse can cause changes to your loved one’s demeanor. You may notice the following changes in their behaviors:
- Refusal to see friends and family members
- Fearful or anxious behavior
- Sudden mood swings
- Withdrawal from activities they previously enjoyed
If possible, someone should keep tabs on your loved one’s finances. This will enable you to spot missing funds or other red flags that may indicate financial exploitation.
There May Be Cause for Civil Action
If you suspect nursing home abuse, it’s vital to document what is happening and take pictures. You should contact an attorney to understand what evidence is needed and how to protect your loved one.
Nursing homes have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide their patients with a certain level of care.
If they aren’t meeting these required standards, their patients (including your loved one) may still be at risk. A lawyer who handles nursing home abuse litigation will assist you and determine what your next course of action should be to protect your loved one.
Concerned that someone you love may be suffering from nursing home abuse? Contact Smith Jordan, Attorneys at Law to schedule a consultation.