When an aging or disabled loved one enters nursing home care, there’s always the lingering thought in family members’ minds—“will my loved one get the care that he/she deserves?” Sadly, the answer to that is oftentimes a resounding “no.” Nursing home abuse is rampant in our nation, much of it unreported or underreported due to the vulnerable nature of the elderly and the handicapped. Many of them are incapable or unwilling to report the abuse they endure, sometimes from embarrassment, other times from fear or reprisal by nursing home staff. If you have reason to believe that your loved one is being abused at a nursing home or assisted living facility, you need to contact the proper authorities right away and then get in touch with SMA Law Group to determine the legal options available to you and your loved one.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can be deliberate or as a result of understaffing. Sometimes abuse occurs to nursing home residents by family members or other visitors who demean or take advantage of them. Abuse can also come in the form of unwanted sexual advances from other residents or employees. Many abuse cases are actually the result of negligence due to understaffing, such as residents not being changed or fed, or obtaining bed sores from being left in bed. And of course, sometimes nursing home abuse is exactly what the term implies – nursing staff physically, emotionally, psychologically, or sexually abusing their residents.
How to Recognize Nursing Home Abuse
It can be difficult to detect elder abuse that is occurring to a resident in a long-term care facility. Being aware of the signs of nursing home abuse can help you in establishing your case. The most obvious signs to look out for include:
- Behavioral changes – This one can be tricky, as many elderly individuals experience behavioral changes as part of the aging process. If your loved one has suddenly become withdrawn, irritable, or angry and it’s not the result of a medical condition or medication side effects, this can be an indication that they are being abused.
- Bed sores and skin infections – Both of these are signs of neglect, although often neglect is unintentional, a result of the facility being understaffed.
- Unexplained weight loss – A sign that your loved one is not being fed properly. Again, this can be a result of understaffing, although it is still inexcusable.