Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
If you have a loved one in a nursing home facility, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse. While we wish that no older adult ever suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, it does happen. Elder abuse in nursing homes is vastly underreported, but the Centers for Disease Control defines it as “an intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a serious risk of harm to an older adult.” If you suspect that a loved one is being neglected, speak to a Jacksonville nursing home abuse lawyer today
What kind of abuse occurs in nursing homes?
There are various types of abuse and neglect that can occur in the nursing home setting.
- Physical Abuse – Refers to instances of nursing home staff or volunteers using physical force on a resident – slapping, punching, shoving, kicking, biting, dropping, and more. Using more force than necessary when performing daily activities such as bathing is also abuse.
- Sexual Abuse – Refers to any sexual contact between nursing home residents and staff/volunteers. This includes any physical sexual contact as well as verbal sexual harassment.
- Financial abuse – Victims in nursing homes often fall victim to financial abuse because the nursing home staff has access to their personal information as well as their finances in some circumstances. If this information and access are used inappropriately, residents’ identities could be stolen or their money could be spent in unauthorized ways.
- Insurance Fraud – There are times when nursing homes will attempt to defraud insurance companies or Medicare/Medicaid by billing for procedures, equipment, or medications that are not given or used.
- Neglect – Nursing home residents should always have their basic needs met. This includes food, medications, baths, regular exercise, and proper wound care.
Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, or those who are incapacitated due to disabilities, are at a higher risk of being abused or neglected.
Recognizing signs of abuse
It can be difficult to recognize abuse that is occurring to a loved one in a nursing home setting. No two cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are the same, but family members and friends should be on the lookout for the following:
- Unusual or unexplained bruising, cuts, or welts
- Unexplained broken bones or fractures
- Sudden weight loss
- Mood swings or outbursts
- Reclusiveness or withdrawn behavior
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of cleanliness
- Frequent infections
In cases in which psychological or emotional abuse are occurring and there may be no physical signs, look out for a fear of being around certain people or avoiding certain areas.
What to do if you suspect abuse
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, ensure your loved one is removed from the situation as quickly as possible. Contact the police and let them conduct an investigation. Secure legal assistance from a qualified and experienced nursing home abuse attorney as quickly as possible.
Your attorney will be able to guide you through your options and evaluate the strength of your case. If nursing home staff or the agency was negligent or caused intentional harm, you and your loved one may be entitled to compensation. This could include:
- Coverage for medical expenses related to the abuse
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
- Relocation expenses if necessary
- Punitive damages against any negligent party