There comes a time for many people where they become too sick or frail to care for themselves. It’s unfortunate and sad, but it’s a part of life. When this happens to one of your loved ones, you may be tasked with the difficult decision of figuring out how to best care for them. Some people decide to take this task on themselves by becoming caregivers for their ailing family member. While this is probably the most affordable option, it is also a stressful one and isn’t the best course of action for elderly individuals who need professional medical attention.

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If being or hiring an in-home caregiver isn’t an option, most people choose to put their aging family member in a nursing home or similar care facility. Nursing homes can be lovely places, where the elderly and sick can get the medical care and companionship they need without being isolated in their own homes. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are good ones.

Some nursing homes are poorly maintained and can become dangerous as a result. Others are understaffed or staffed with negligent or improperly trained staff that abuse and neglect elderly residents without their loved ones even realizing it. Even though the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 has helped us come a long way in preventing nursing home abuse and neglect, it still happens on a daily basis.

Nobody deserves this kind of treatment, especially our family members that are suffering from illnesses and the effects of old age. If this has happened to you or your loved one, or if you have any reason to suspect nursing home abuse, it is critical that you contact a Morgantown nursing home injury lawyer ASAP to get your loved one help and make sure they get the compensation they deserve for enduring this abuse.

What is the Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse & Nursing Home Neglect?

Many people think that these two terms are one in the same. However, they are quite different.

Nursing home neglect occurs when a resident doesn’t receive the care they need. Whether this is intentional or accidental, it still qualifies as neglect.

Those who suffer nursing home neglect in Morgantown, WV can develop serious medical issues. This may happen because they aren’t being administered the medication they need or because they aren’t receiving proper hygienic care.

There are four types of nursing home neglect that you may be able to identify by observing your loved one. They are:

  • Hygienic – This type of neglect occurs when a resident’s basic needs, like going to the bathroom or getting dressed, aren’t attended to by nursing home staff. Failure to help the resident with such needs can result in bedsores, skin infections, bowel disease, or dental issues.
  • Malnutrition/Dehydration – If a resident isn’t given the food or water they need to sustain themselves, you may be able to make a case for neglect. Some nursing home staff will withhold food and water from residents in order make them more obedient. Not only is this cruel and inhumane, but it can cause serious pain, discomfort, and, in some cases, death.
  • Medical – Medical neglect is when nursing home staff either refuse or forget to give medication, clean wounds, or apply fresh bandages when needed. For the resident, medical neglect can cause infections, pain, and death.
  • Emotional – When a resident is ignored by staff or not allowed to have visitors or socialize with other residents, emotional neglect can occur.

Unlike neglect, nursing home abuse is intentional and involves residents being hurt either mentally or physically. There are five types of nursing home abuse:

  • Physical – This includes kicking, hitting, pushing, scratching, or wrongfully restraining someone to their bed. This kind of abuse is often easy to spot, as it usually results in bruises, scars, or scratches. If you see evidence of physical abuse in a loved one, take pictures of their injuries right away.
  • Financial – Nursing home employees may take advantage of a resident’s failing memory to steal money from their personal items or persuade them to give up their bank account information.
  • Emotional – Nursing home residents can suffer emotional abuse when they are mocked, ignored, humiliated, or put down by staff members. This can cause severe depression or exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems.
  • Sexual – Sexual abuse is surprisingly common in nursing homes and typically occurs when sexual acts are performed on or with residents without their consent or knowledge.
  • False imprisonment – In extreme cases, nursing home staff may tie up a resident, lock them in their room, or take away their wheelchair or walker so that they can’t go anywhere.

When you place an elderly family member in a nursing home, you trust that they will be well taken care of. When they aren’t, your trust is broken, and your loved one’s vulnerability is exploited. If this happens, the Morgantown nursing home neglect lawyers at Colombo Law are here to help you fight for justice on your loved one’s behalf.

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How to Recognize Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Some of the types of abuse and neglect we’ve mentioned are hard to recognize, and others aren’t. The best way to make sure your loved one is safe, happy, and healthy is by being vigilant. Observe them when they are around or interact with staff. If everything seems normal, chances are abuse is not a concern. If a staff member enters the room and you noticed an immediate change in your loved one’s mood or demeanor, they may be suffering abuse or neglect.

Some other signs of nursing home neglect and abuse may include:

  • Bad hygiene
  • Substantial weight loss
  • Dirty living quarters
  • Bed sores
  • Cuts or bruises
  • A tendency to trip or fall
  • Change in mood
  • Signs of depression
  • Infection
  • Broken bones
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Decreased communication or a refusal to talk

What Should I Do If I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Knowing where to start to stop this tragedy can be tricky. If you suspect or know your loved one is being abused or neglected, don’t ignore it. Start by either photographing physical proof or talking to your loved one and writing down their account of the situation.

Unfortunately, some residents don’t know they’re being abused, and others may not want to talk about it. You still must not ignore it. Contact a Morgantown nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible to get your loved one the assistance they need.

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What Can I Do to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

The most important thing to do is to tackle this issue head-on. It cannot be ignored, and you must not stay silent. The first step in preventing such an atrocity is to educate others. If you speak up and share you or your loved one’s story, you may help save someone else from suffering the same abuses.

If you suspect your loved one is in immediate danger or their life is at risk, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1. You can also get help by:

  • Using the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator or by calling 1-800-677-1116 to find state authorities to report the abuse.
  • Contacting and filing a report with your state’s local Department of Aging.
  • Consulting your loved one’s doctor for advice or resources to help you handle the situation.

Why Should I Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?

Our elderly family members are already vulnerable enough and don’t deserve to be hurt by the same people they trust to take care of them. Nursing home residents have rights that are protected by both state and federal laws. If you contact a nursing home injury attorney, they should be able to help you determine if these rights have been violated and find out whether you have a case.

Look out for your family. Check for signs of abuse or neglect and do something about it if you see them. Don’t hesitate to get help from the authorities or a lawyer. If you need help with a Morgantown nursing home abuse or neglect case, call Colombo Law at 304-906-2815 to schedule a free consultation and speak with a personal injury lawyer.