Nursing home abuse is the most common types of abuse in the United States. The statistics regarding nursing home abuse are all the more frightening because so many people are unaware of the scope of the problem. If you know someone who is the victim of nursing home abuse, it is important to report it to the proper resources. In some cases, this may mean hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer to expose the abuse or neglect and protect the rights of the elderly.
How Big Is The Nursing Home Abuse Problem?
Nursing home abuse is a very complicated problem because it involves adults who are often discouraged from reporting. Unlike child abuse, many people do not see elder abuse as a rampant social problem, although adults are more likely than children to suffer abuse. In addition, elderly patients often suffer from communication or cognitive problems that may lead others to discount their reports of abuse or neglect.
According to experts, most nursing home abuse is never reported. While residents of nursing homes experience physical, financial, emotional and even sexual abuse at the hands of other residents or staff, relatively few victims ever speak out. The chances of abuse are high: at least 30 percent of all U.S. nursing homes have been cited for safety violations, and at least 40 percent of the elderly population are put into nursing care facilities at some point in their lives. While it is difficult to verify the actual number of abuse cases, experts estimate that 44 percent of nursing home residents suffer some form of abuse, and up to 95 percent have witnessed abuse or neglect of another patient.
The most common type of nursing home abuse is neglect. Some patients are denied food, medication or clean surroundings due to untrained or unsupervised staff as well as a shortfall of employees. However, some nursing home residents are also victims of physical abuse such as hitting, pinching or shoving. In a few cases, serious physical or sexual abuse occurs. Emotional abuse, such as name-calling or threatening, is also common and can lead to depression and other issues on the part of victims. Remember that a nursing home victim does not have to be physically assaulted in order to suffer from neglect or abuse.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can be difficult to spot, especially on the part of staff members who may behave differently in front of family members. Signs to watch for include:
- Physical injuries such as bedsores, bruises, cuts and unexplained injuries
- Emotional withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities
- Silence, especially around staff members
- Unexplained changes in behavior
- Changes to financial documents such as wills or powers of attorney
How Can I Protect My Loved Ones?
If you suspect nursing home abuse, there are several things you can do to protect your loved one. Of course, the first step is prevention. Choose a nursing home carefully after interviewing the staff. Do not be afraid to drop by unannounced, especially in the first few weeks, and check up on your elderly relative. Encourage him or her to let you know if things are not safe or if they are being neglected or abused in any way.
If your loved one reports abuse or if you suspect it to be the case, you can report the situation to Adult Protective Services in your area. The agency will then make a report and investigate the allegations. Unfortunately, this does not always solve the problem.
In some cases, it may be better to involve a nursing home abuse lawyer in your case. An attorney has the resources to investigate nursing home abuse and to take steps to hold the nursing home accountable for this type of behavior.
If you suspect that your loved one is in physical danger, act immediately, even if it means removing him or her from the facility. Once the victim is safe, contact a Nursing Home abuse lawyer immediately for help by calling 800.360.7015. The Florida nursing home abuse lawyers at David & Philpot, P.L. will discuss your case at no charge and inform you of your rights and the next steps you should take.