You placed your aging mother in a nursing home because she could no longer live alone and needed more care than you could provide. Her health was deteriorating, and it was getting harder for her to move around on her own. Or maybe she fell and did not recover to the point where she could go back to living independently. You looked around for the right home. The staff at the facility you picked assured you that they would “take good care of her” and that you have “nothing to worry about”.
As the months go by, you try to visit her every week or so. But with each visit, you are growing increasingly concerned. Her health seems to be worsening at an accelerated rate, and she is not nearly as cheerful as she used to be. Or maybe she has become withdrawn and quiet. You sense that something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on exactly what the problem is. And she is not telling.
Nursing Home Abuse is Real, and the Problem is Growing
The story described above is far more common than most people would like to believe. There is a crisis in America’s nursing homes, and all indications point to things getting worse for the foreseeable future.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 1.5 million people now live in nursing homes in the U.S. Much of this is due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and the increased need for medical and long-term care. As the needs of older Americans grow for this type of care, there will continue to be a strain on the system, and there will be an increase in the incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Studies released by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reveal that as many as one in ten residents of nursing homes have experienced some type of abuse over the previous year. Considering that just a fraction of all incidents of nursing home abuse are ever even reported, the actual figure is startlingly higher.
Knowing that this is taking place, it is essential that loved ones understand the warning signs of nursing home neglect and abuse. The fact is that many of the caretakers and providers in these facilities are the perpetrators of this harm, so you can’t rely on them to turn themselves in and report an incident of wrongdoing.
Obvious Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The warning signs of nursing home abuse can vary by situation and person because there are so many different types of abuse and neglect. The most common and obvious signs of nursing home abuse are physical. Families should be concerned about the following types of physical issues:
- Unexplained bruising or injuries
- Evidence of the use of restraints
- Swelling or bruising around the genitals
- The appearance of an unexplained sexually transmitted disease
While we say that these are obvious signs of abuse, they can be difficult to identify as such because physical symptoms can often be confused with other issues such as pre-existing medical conditions. The facility might even try to blame it on the patient. This is why the involvement of family members with these facilities is essential.
Three Commonly Missed Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
There is never an excuse for any type of nursing home abuse, and some forms are more difficult to detect if you don’t know the particular signs and symptoms. Here are three commonly missed types of nursing home abuse and their signs:
1. Emotional Abuse: This occurs when staff or even other patients treat your loved one in a way that is intimidating, disrespectful, derogatory, and belittling. Common signs are a loved one becoming withdrawn, depressed, agitated, and frightened in the presence of certain staff.
2. Financial Exploitation: No one thinks that a trusted and licensed facility will financially exploit a patient, but this is far too common. Since seniors are vulnerable and often have assets or full insurance, they can become the subject of financial and insurance fraud. Common signs are new secrecy surrounding financial affairs, unpaid bills, and a rash of excessive and unnecessary treatments or equipment ordered by the facility.
3. Neglect or Abandonment: Just because your loved one is in a facility, that doesn’t mean that they are getting the care and attention you were promised. Caregivers might leave your loved ones unattended, isolated, and fail to care for their basic needs. Signs of neglect and abandonment include dehydration and malnutrition, soiled bedding and clothing, deteriorating personal hygiene, and evidence that medication is not being administered as prescribed.
Unfortunately, too many elderly family members will suffer in silence. They either don’t know that they are being abused, can’t communicate their feelings, are afraid of the repercussions of they tell anyone, or don’t want to burden their loved ones with their problems. If you sense that something isn’t right, communicate your concerns to the facility management and take steps to immediately protect your loved one and your legal rights.
How Our Alabama Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Can Help
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, it’s important to act quickly and decisively. The Law Offices of Troy King can report the abuse to the proper authorities and ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to protect your rights. Your actions might not only save the life of your loved one but of others you have never met but who have no one advocating for them.
It is vital that all information relative to the incident is thoroughly documented to ensure that reports are not altered or lost. Our legal team understands how to file these reports and make effective legal claims against a negligent facility and its employees.
At The Law Offices of Troy King, our attorneys will not hesitate to take a negligent party to court to hold them responsible for the harm they have caused. Our goal is to achieve the most positive outcome possible for you and your loved ones.
Contact our office today at 334.215.4440 or message us online to schedule your free, no obligation consultation and case review. We will be your strongest legal advocate to investigate the abuse, to stop any abuse we find and to hold those who hurt our most vulnerable accountable.