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How To Sue And Report Nursing Home Abuse?

Jun 8, 2022

Aging adults in nursing homes deserve the best possible care. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes offer care above standards. In fact, according to the WHO, 12% of nursing home staff reported neglecting the needs of residents.

Although families rely on nursing homes to give their loved ones the care and supervision they need, unfortunately, not many nursing homes live up to this expectation. Reporting nursing home neglect  and abuse is critical. It’s important that nursing homes are held responsible for their actions against the elderly.

Read on to explore:

What is Considered Abuse of the Elderly

The term elderly abuse refers to physical, emotional, or sexual assault of nursing home residents. It also includes financial exploitation or neglect of their welfare by those directly in charge of their care.

Thus, nursing home abuse includes the intentional or unintentional acts of caregivers that put senior citizens in harms-way. Think of it as any action that can harm them physically, emotionally, sexually or Financially. Residents must when abused in any way, to prevent long-term harm.

Abuse in assisted living facilities can seriously harm senior citizens. In addition, the number of elder abuse cases is expected to grow as the population grows around the world, says the WHO.

Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes

Although nursing homes are supposed to be the safest places for seniors, elders face different forms of abuse from caregivers. Here are the common types of nursing home abuse.

PHYSICAL ABUSE

This is the intentional use of force against a senior that results in bodily injury, pain, or physical impairment. Some examples of physical abuse include:

  • Punching,
  • Kicking,
  • Forcible feeding or withholding of food
  • Physical punishments
  • Pushing, or
  • Suffocating.

More than 9% of caregivers at nursing homes confessed to physically abusing seniors, according to a recent study by WHO. Physical abuse in a nursing home is a common act, that can be committed against any older adult due to their vulnerability. On top of that, seniors with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia tend to be at higher risk of this abuse.

Here are some common signs of this nursing home abuse in seniors.

  • Bruises
  • Cuts or scrapes
  •  Dislocated joints
  • Burns
  • Broken bones

Sometimes, the signs may go beyond physical signs such as broken bones. However, when caregivers give poor explanations for a senior’s injury, self-treated injuries, or uncertainty of any form, know that such injury was likely birthed from a physical assault.

SEXUAL ABUSE

This nursing home abuse among elders refers to any form of coerced sexual contact with an older adult. This includes physical sex acts, forcing residents to watch pornographic content, or even forcing them to undress for a non-medical purpose.

Here are some warning signs of this nursing home abuse:

  • Bruises around the breast, genitals, or inner thigh
  • New sexually transmitted diseases or infection
  • The resident complained of being sexually assaulted
  • Pain while walking or sitting
  • Emotional trauma

Sexual abuse among residents most affects disabled seniors or those with cognitive disabilities that prevent them from giving consent.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home that is facing this nursing home abuse, follow these steps to report the nursing home:

PSYCHOLOGICAL OR EMOTIONAL ELDER ABUSE

Emotional or psychological abuse is the most common form of elder abuse in nursing homes. A recent study said over 32% of nursing home staff members claimed they emotionally abuse seniors.

Emotional abuse has to do with how caregivers talk to and treat nursing home residents. The result of psychological abuse often wears elders down. Similar to other nursing home abuse, emotional abuse also comes in diverse forms.

They include:

  • Threats of harm or abandonment
  • Not respecting resident’s privacy
  •  Ignoring the seniors
  • Verbal abuse or ridiculing
  • Restricting residents from seeing family and peers.

While emotional nursing home abuse may have little effect on some seniors, especially those with cognitive disabilities, who may be unable to recall their abuse experience. It increases the risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety for others who are not.

Some common signs of emotional abuse in a nursing home include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Seniors always look scared or depressed
  • Mood Swings
  • Sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Avoiding eye contact

FINANCIAL OR MATERIAL ABUSE

Also known as financial or material exploitation refers to the unauthorized or improper use of a nursing home resident’s money, assets, or property. Material exploitation takes many forms.

These could include:

  •  Cashing or signing a resident’s check with consent
  • Using a resident’s credit or debit card without consent
  • Stealing a senior’s property or money from a wallet
  • Forcing older adults into accenting a document
  • Denying residents access to benefits

Financial abuse is considered the most self-reported type of abuse. A Survey carried out some time ago reveals seniors lose up to $36 billion yearly to financial abuse.

These are helpful tips to help you identify elder financial abuse in nursing homes.

  • Elders do not understand their financial situation
  • ATM withdrawals seniors could not have done
  • Increased spending pattern
  •  Missing valuables or money
  • Residents receiving an eviction notice

Financial fraud can be perpetrated by anyone. But the good thing is that there are penalties for the abusers. Here’s how to report a nursing home if your loved one in a nursing home has suffered financial abuse.

NURSING HOME NEGLECT

Neglect is another popular type of nursing home abuse. Elder neglect occurs when nursing home staff fails to provide standard care services to residents. In situations like this, caregivers care less and perhaps, have less regard for the health and well-being of the elder patient.

Thus, leaving vulnerable elders to fend for themselves. Examples of neglect can include

  • Caregivers failing to administer medication,
  • Attending to personal hygiene needs such as bathing or cleaning resident’s waste
  • Providing residents with food
  • Playing deaf ears to senior’s complaints or needs
  • Ignore patients for a longer time

Reporting nursing home neglect is an effective way to prevent adverse effects that come with long-term neglect.

Why Isn’t Elder Abuse Reported

Sadly, even with many states having laws to punish perpetrators who abuse any elderly person in a nursing home, not many reports are filed. Reporting nursing home neglect or any form of neglect that occurred is a challenge.

 Next, we will examine why victims do not seek justice from skilled lawyers after suffering abuse in a nursing home.

 POOR PHYSICAL OR MENTAL STATE OF HEALTH

Aging adults in a nursing home often suffer health decline, which affects their physical and psychological well being. These health challenges such as dementia limits nursing residents from making reports or complaints about what is happening to them. As a result, it becomes difficult to bring abusers to justice.

FEAR OF BEING PUNISHED OR RETALIATION FROM ABUSER

This could be another reason why seniors are scared to report a nursing home for abuse. Particularly, if the abuser is the resident’s primary caregiver. The caregiver could decide to neglect, abandon frail seniors or retaliate in a way that will affect the welfare of residents if they disclose their abusive experience.

How to Report  Nursing Home Abuse

People in a care facility have rights and deserve to be protected when they are violated. Overall, it is a reality no one wants to know. Here are processes to follow if your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse.

KNOW THE SIGNS OF NURSING ABUSE AND NEGLECT

Before involving nursing home abuse attorneys in nursing home neglect or abuse you should conduct a little investigation – identify the abuse. Some signs of nursing home abuse can be more visible and prompting medical care while others can be hard to spot. Plus, your loved ones may be unwilling to accept they are facing abuse to avoid making their family members anxious.

However, you still need to get something tangible; some signs of nursing home abuse. This helps to take strong legal action that result in financial compensation or any other from of justice. When you understand a few symptoms of the nursing home abuse, it can help the nursing home abuse lawyers to find a perfect footing for the case.

  • Poor Hygiene. Older adults in any nursing home deserve the best care possible. This includes caregivers helping with hygiene needs like bathroom needs. If you discovered your loved one’s hygiene is poor, that could be a sign of abuse.
  • Bruises or self-treated wounds. Understandably, aging adults are frail and prone to falls. But bruises or wounds are also signs of abuse in a nursing home. Injuries gotten from accidents such as falls or slips should be well treated. Failure to do that is negligence on the part of the caregiver and is a red flag for abuse. Identifying this will help the personal injury lawyers to take an unformidable legal action. However, remember to gather evidence from medical records as well.
  •  Bedsores. Especially for severely weak residents that are unable to help themselves, laying in one position for a long time can cause bedsores. For diabetic seniors, wounds can be infected and take a longer time to heal. So, if you see bedsores on your loved ones, it’s a clear sign that they’ve been neglected by the nurses at the assisted living facility for a long time. Again, that’s a red flag.
  • Missing valuables or Sudden change to their will. Your legal team might need to also know if any care facility residents complain of missing valuables like money, ATM cards, credit cards, or accessories show they are victims of financial or material exploitation. Or, sudden change to a will that added a stranger as beneficiary signifies they are victims of nursing home abuse. If this has been happening, can help strengthen the legal claim and make the abusers accountable
  •  A fresh case of Infections or diseases. Infection or disease-free adults contracting serious infections or diseases such as Sexually transmitted diseases infections is a sign they are victims of sexual assault. This issue will need an experienced attorney who can successfully challenge the abuse occurred. Some of the evidence that can help is to know if the perpetrator has been unnecessarily in the resident’s room.

DOCUMENT THE ABUSE AND NEGLECT

When you see symptoms of abuse, you may need to document it as evidence for legal help.

Documenting the abuse could be taking pictures, making videos, or writing down what you’ve seen. 

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Or taking your loved one to be medically evaluated to record professional injuries. This medical record will serve as proof of neglect and emotional abuse your loved one experienced. If it is a medical malpractice involving medication errors situation, you may need to get professional medical advice from medical experts.

REPORT NURSING HOME ABUSE

You can start by reporting suspicious acts of neglect and abuse to the nursing home administration. This will help to address the problem internally and seek new patterns.

However, if there’s no change or things get worse than before, further the complaint to a nursing home ombudsman or nursing home attorneys. Ombudsmen handle complaints of neglect, poor treatment, or abuse. Alternatively, inquire for a free legal case review. You can always find a law firm that’s willing to provide a free case review.

Then you can go ahead to report nursing home neglect and back your legal claim.

GET LAWYERS FOR NURSING HOME ABUSE OR NEGLECT

Elders in a nursing home have rights, and such rights must be respected. When seniors in nursing homes face abuse of any form, their rights are being violated. If your loved one is suffering from home abuse, find a law firm, or consider hiring an attorney that specializes in nursing home abuse cases. An elder abuse attorney will help the nursing home resident and push for financial compensation in a manner that also satisfies the families affected.

Who Do You Call To Report A Nursing Home Abuse?

Here are the authorities you can contact to report nursing home abuse. 

LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN

Ombudsmen serve as the bridge between nursing home residents and the facilities. They are officials that stop and prevent abuse of seniors.

Typically a long-term ombudsman works to resolve standing challenges between residents and the nursing home, staff members, or other caregivers. A nursing home ombudsman listens to residents’ concerns, educates residents on their rights and changes in nursing home laws, and overall, makes decisions that ensure residents’ safety and comfort.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Calling local authorities such as the police or the state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) in the U.S. is likely the swiftest and easiest way to begin your nursing home lawsuits.

Best suitable if it is an emergency case. The police can help you file a case if the senior is severely injured or harmed. For instance, cases of assault or homicide, emotional abuse, or financial exploitation.

However, if it is not an emergency, you can consider contacting a local agency such as the APS. A social worker from the APS will investigate the case of reported abuse and proffer solutions.

NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEYS

Filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit with the help of a nursing home abuse attorney can go a long to bringing justice for your loved one that suffered neglect, or suffered abuse. These skilled professionals can also help with a wrongful death lawsuit, and they do so maintaining a great attorney client relationship.

Attorneys file a legal complaint on abuse or even death, explain the legal options of their case and help them secure compensation for the trouble caused. Seniors in nursing homes can use this compensation to pay for medical treatment since medical bills will likely go up.

DOCTORS AND MEDICAL EXPERTS

Reporting nursing home abuse cases to doctors and medical experts, adds credibility to your claim. Doctors help prove whether or not a nursing resident’s injuries were a result of an accident or abuse from staff members or other caregivers.

Doctors offer original explanations for the causes of the resident’s injuries. For instance, problems like frequent falls, or bruised skin are often linked to aging and are not possible as a form of abuse.

Situations like this are where medical experts’ opinion is needed. Doctors and medical experts will examine the elderly, and give a credible report on the original causes of problems.

Final Words

Nursing home abuse is a single or repeated – intentional or unintentional act that results in causing distress or harm to aged adults. The consequences of elderly abuse could lead to long-term physical injuries, death, financial devastation, and psychological problems in residents.

WHO estimates the global population of adults aged 60 years and older to be around 2 billion by 2050. The implication of this is that the global number of nursing home abuse victims is increasing rapidly. Sadly, despite awareness and campaigns against the abuse of seniors in nursing homes, the act still prevails and is on a rise.

There are penalties for caregivers who abuse elders in nursing homes. Understanding how to report nursing home abuse to responsible authorities could be one way to protect loved ones from long-term abuses. If it seems like a long process to follow, you can always call the police if the condition is severe.

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