At some point, everyone reaches an age where it becomes difficult to live alone. It’s hard to watch someone go through this, but chances are you have experienced this with a parent, sibling, or other loved ones.
During this time, some people choose to hire or become caregivers. While this option allows the elderly family member to stay in their own home, it’s not always a practical one. For those who don’t have a caregiver, or can’t afford one, the next best option is to live in a nursing home.
We think of nursing homes as safe places where our loved ones can receive medical care without having to be in a hospital, and many of them are just that. Unfortunately, there is the occasional instance of a nursing home that is unsafe, either because it is not properly maintained, is run by negligent staff or improperly trained staff, or is understaffed for the number of residents they accept.
Despite the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987, countless people are abused or neglected by nursing home employees each year. If you or a loved one have experienced nursing home abuse or neglect, know that there is hope. With the help of a nursing home injury lawyer, you can hold the people who are hurting you or your loved one responsible and seek compensation for the pain you or your loved one has suffered.
Nursing Home Neglect vs. Nursing Home Abuse
These terms may sound similar, but they are actually very different. Since nursing home neglect is when someone is failed to be properly cared for, it can be purposeful or accidental. Many times this simply means that the elderly individual doesn’t receive as much care or attention from the staff as they need.
While this sounds relatively harmless, serious medical issues can result from patients who don’t receive the medications they need or whose hygienic needs are ignored. Many nursing home residents are completely dependent on the nursing home staff to take care of them. In fact, countless Americans put their trust in these nursing homes to provide the appropriate level of care and assistance. When that trust is broken and a vulnerable resident is injured, our nursing home neglect lawyers are here to help.
There are several ways nursing home neglect can occur:
- Hygienic – Oftentimes, people living in nursing homes need help with basic tasks like going to the bathroom or getting dressed. If these needs aren’t attended to by the nursing home staff as required, the victim could get bed sores, skin infections, bowel disease, or develop dental issues.
- Malnutrition/Dehydration – This type of neglect happens when victims are not given enough food and/or water by staff. Withholding the proper hydration or nutrition from a vulnerable nursing home resident is not only inhumane, but it can lead to very serious health issues, pain, discomfort, and even death.
- Medical – This includes the failure to administer medication, clean wounds, or apply fresh bandages when needed and can result in infections, severe pain, and death. This also includes a failure of the medical staff to adequately develop a plan of care and follow up with the resident to ensure that the plan of care is being followed or whether the plan of care needs to be changed.
- Emotional – This kind of neglect occurs when a patient is ignored by staff or denied opportunities to socialize with other residents or visitors.
Nursing home abuse is different because it involves a resident being intentionally hurt either mentally or physically. Types of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical – When a resident is hit, kicked, pushed, scratched, or wrongfully restrained to their bed. This type of abuse will be apparent, as it often results in visible bruises, scars, or scratches that should be photographed right away.
- Financial – Nursing home employees may be tempted to steal money from residents’ wallets or convince them to give personal and bank account information in order to rob them electronically.
- Emotional – Mocking, ignoring, humiliating, or putting a resident down qualifies emotional abuse on the part of the staff. Not only can this behavior make a loved one feel depressed, it can also worsen existing mental health conditions.
- Sexual – This type of abuse is more common than most people realize. It usually involves a sexual act being performed on or with a patient without their knowledge or consent.
- False imprisonment – If nursing home staff tie a resident up, force them to stay in their room for no reason, or take away their only means of mobility, they could be accused of false imprisonment.
How to Recognize Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect?
Unfortunately, not only is it more common than any of us would like to believe, but nursing home abuse and neglect can take place without anyone else ever realizing it. The best way to monitor for it is to observe your loved one when they are around nursing home staff. If the staff member enters the room and your loved one’s mood suddenly changes or they look at the floor or flinch, they may be suffering abuse.
You can also look out for nursing home abuse/neglect by keeping an eye open for:
- 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
- Broken bones
- Decreased communication or a refusal to talk
What Should I Do If My Loved One is Experiencing Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
It can be hard to know where to start in this situation, but one thing is absolutely certain: you must do something. A good first step is to take pictures if your loved one has physical injuries, and record or write down a firsthand account of the atrocities they’ve suffered.
If you cannot obtain evidence of physical harm and your loved one either can’t or won’t discuss it, you can’t ignore your suspicions. You should contact a nursing home abuse or neglect attorney to figure out what steps should be taken next.
Is There Anything Else I Can Do to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect?
Refusing to talk about the issue isn’t helping anyone. If you or your loved one has been abused or neglected by nursing home staff, do not stay silent. Tell your story and share it with others so that they can be aware of the risks associated with bad nursing homes. You could save someone else from being hurt or killed.
Of course, if you or someone you know is in an emergency situation or immediate danger, call 9-1-1. After getting the care needed, you should:
- Use the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator or call 1-800-677-1116 to help you find state authorities that you can report the abuse to.
- Contact and file a report with your state’s local Department of Aging
- Consult with your loved one’s doctor, as they may have advice or resources to help you handle the situation.
Why Should I Hire a Nursing Home Injury Lawyer?
Our loved ones who are in nursing homes have already been through enough without being abused or neglected by people they should be able to trust. Unfortunately, long hours and poor pay are some of the main reasons nursing home employees may commit these crimes. Residents of nursing homes have certain rights that are mandated by state and federal laws and regulations. Your nursing home injury lawyer will be able to determine if any of these state or federal laws and regulations were violated by the nursing home.
Monitor your loved one. Look for the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect and, if you see them, do something about it. Make a plan for how to help, report the abuse to the appropriate agencies, and get in touch with the nursing home neglect lawyers at Colombo Law to find out if you have a case. We offer free consultations and won’t charge to help you or your elderly family member unless we successfully settle or win the case. Call us at 888-860-1414 to learn more about your rights.