Detecting Nursing Home Abuse
Nearly everybody reaches the age where they will need extra help with their everyday living. Our elderly were once vibrant and youthful children and adults who worked hard to earn a living and raise their own families. When the day comes when we can no longer care for our elderly parents, we will have to look for a reliable nursing home or extended living facility.
Nursing homes are a necessary part of our society, for they provide the elderly with the round-the-clock care that they desperately need. As men and women age, their needs are much like the needs of a young infant; therefore, it is often necessary to place our loved ones in a nursing home where they can get the care they need.
Nursing homes are paid good money by private individuals and by the state to care for elderly individuals; unfortunately their standard of care is not always where it should be. Overcrowded nursing homes and understaffing have created an environment where nursing home neglect can occur as a result. Even when caregivers have the best intentions, elderly patients can be pushed aside, or their needs can be neglected when there are staff shortages.
Aside from overworked and underpaid staffing issues, there’s something far more worse going on in our nation’s nursing homes. Sadly, there have been thousands of cases where nursing homes were downright abusive towards elderly patients. This may seem like something that can’t possibly happen in your nursing home, but the truth is that the problem is far more widespread than people have been led to believe. What types of abuses go on behind closed doors? Virtually anything you can imagine has probably already occurred. Nursing home abuse can be physical, it can be emotional, it can involve sexual abuse, overmedicating, malnutrition, and it can involve financial exploitation.
Physical abuse within a nursing home would consist of unnecessary use physical restraints, hitting, slapping, and punching among other types of abuse. It can also mean overmedicating or heavily sedating a patient as a means of control.
Sexual abuse can include: fondling, molestation, and sexual assault/rape, sexual battery, forcing the elderly individual to watch pornographic material and forcing them to undress. Emotional abuse can consist of threats, belittling and social isolation. All of which can lead to psychological distress in the elderly patient. Financial exploitation can refer to when a caregiver steals cash out of an elderly person’s wallet or purse, it can mean taking money out of their bank accounts and it can mean writing checks from the elderly person’s checking account. It can also mean a full-fledged identity theft scheme where the caregiver steals their social security number, birth certificate and credit cards. Sometimes financial exploitation can go undetected for years before it is brought to light.
If your loved one is in a nursing home and if you have observed some things that didn’t sit right with you, you should start looking further into your concerns. Have you noticed any unexplained bruising? Is your loved one afraid of his or her caregivers, or do they seem to argue with them? Are things missing from their room? Has money or jewelry gone missing, or is money missing from their bank accounts? Has there been any unusual activity on their credit cards or other accounts?
It’s also important to look around the room. Is it clean? Does your loved one look well fed, or have they recently experienced a sudden loss in weight? Are there any foul odors in the room; does your loved one have any bed sores? Are they making wild claims that somebody hurt them, or that somebody stole from them? It can be a common mistake to dismiss claims by the elderly, or chock up their complaints to Alzheimer’s, or wild hallucinations.
The elderly are very susceptible to being taken advantage of in more ways than one. Whether you suspect nursing home abuse, neglect, or if you think your loved one suffered from a wrongful death at the hands of their caregiver, then contact a personal injury attorney who has experience with these types of cases. They can help you with the legal aspects, and they can help bring the abuser to justice so that nobody else has to be harmed by them.