What are the most-common signs and symptoms of elder abuse at a nursing home?
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Every year millions of older Americans suffer from abuse or neglect at the hands of staff at nursing homes (also sometimes referred to as retirement homes or assisted living facilities) across the country. Often unable to protect themselves and sometimes unable to communicate that they are being hurt; elder Americans can be subject to a variety of different types of abuse.
Neglect is by far the most common form of elder mistreatment that occurs. Physical abuse is second, then financial or material exploitation, emotional abuse, and even sometimes sexual abuse. These forms of abuse and neglect can happen in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or during in-home care.
Signs of elder abuse.
Physical Abuse - Physical abuse of an elder includes everything from hitting, shoving and other forms of physical assault to inappropriate use of drugs, restraints or other confinement. Nursing home and assisted living residents can be grabbed, hit, slapped, punched, pinched, choked, kicked and smacked. They can also be restrained against their will to beds or wheelchairs, unable to move. Some residents are even given drugs without their consent to keep them calm and "manageable".
Emotional Abuse - Emotional abuse of elderly nursing home or assisted living residents can be either verbal or nonverbal. Caregivers guilty of verbal abuse yell, scream or threaten residents and can also humiliate and ridicule them. Some caregivers will continually blame or condemn an elderly resident for something that goes wrong, i.e. soiling the bed sheets (when in fact it is the caregivers fault for not assisting the resident in a more timely fashion). Nonverbal emotional abuse includes isolating the resident from friends or activities, terrorizing or menacing the person so they live in a state of fear, or ignoring them so they feel alone and helpless.
Financial Abuse - Financial or material exploitation of an elderly resident happens when a staff member or even a family member makes improper use of the resident's money, bank accounts, credit cards, ATM cards, property or other assets. Some abusers will threaten a resident or use emotional ploys to gain access to the elder's financial accounts or con the resident into changing beneficiary information in their will, trust, or other accounts.
Sexual Abuse - Any type of sexual contact or activity that is non-consensual is considered sexual abuse. Physical contact - either by forcing a resident to submit to a sex act or to perform a sex act - is the most obvious form of sexual abuse, but forcing a resident to view sexual pictures or videos, taking sexual pictures of a resident, or forcing a resident to watch a sex act are all considered abuse as well.
Neglect - If an elderly resident is not being cared for properly, either by delaying care (not taking a resident to the bathroom in a timely manner) or by ignoring a resident's needs (failing to offer food or water or prescription medication), then the caregiver is being neglectful. Sadly, neglect is a very common form of elder mistreatment, with over half of all abuse cases being some form of elder neglect.
Signs of neglect.
Look around your loved one’s room. Are the surroundings clean? Are the bed sheets clean? If the environment isn’t clean, your loved one may be experiencing a lowered quality of life and could be susceptible to infection.
Does your loved one fall often or have injures that might be the result of falls? Falling often may be a red flag that your loved one isn’t being watched closely or that the nursing home is understaffed.
Is your loved one often restrained, either in bed or in a wheelchair? Are her sheets always tucked tightly around her? Physical restraint is a common form of nursing home neglect – if patients can’t move, staffers do not have to watch them for long periods of time.
How do the caregivers treat your loved one? Are they attentive and loving, or are they indifference and cold? If the staffers don’t treat your loved one like a human being while you are visiting, the treatment may be even worse when you are absent.
Do you have to wait before seeing your loved one? Does a caregiver stay in the room? If you are made to wait before visiting, this may be because staffers are rushing to clean the room and prepare your loved one. If they do not leave the room during your visit, it may be so that your loved one does not reveal abuse.
Does your loved one seem overmedicated? Nursing home workers could be restraining your loved one by overmedicating her.
If you suspect that your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones are being abused or neglected, contact the attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm for a free consultation today.
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The attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm are happy to speak to you about your potential case free of charge. If we can help with your claim, we'll do so for no out-of-pocket cost to you. Call us 24/7 at (214) 617-1886.
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