When family members get elderly, we often times trust nursing homes to take care of them when we are no longer able to do so. We expect that the nursing homes will take care of our loved ones, but all too often they end up being abused by the staff. This abuse comes in different forms and for different reasons. Knowing how to spot nursing home abuse and knowing what to do if you suspect abuse is always important.

What are common types of nursing home abuse?

When we think about nursing home abuse, we often times think about the purely physical aspect. Physical abuse can take many forms, and usually presents itself in the form of cuts, bruises and other physical trauma. Severe nursing home abuse can result in broken bones or worse. If an elderly person is not properly being cared for medically, they may end up with bed sores or other physical indicators.

But abuse in nursing homes is not limited to physical. Emotional abuse is also a major problem in nursing home facilities. If the nursing staff yells at residents or somehow hurts their self-esteem, they are committing abuse. If the staff influences their decisions or takes advantage of an elderly person who has a bad memory, this can all affect the well-being of your loved one. Mental abuse can cause stress levels to rise in the elderly and may make them fearful to live there. If a nursing home employee takes money from a resident, this is also a form of abuse. Staff can exploit the elderly and take money from them which they have earned throughout their life. There is also sexual abuse of the elderly. If staff members are taking advantage of the elderly and are sexually abusing them, this also takes a toll on those who are vulnerable.

What causes nursing home abuse?

Nursing home abuse by the staff is often due to a number of factors. Whether it is related to the staff not enjoying their position and taking it out on the residents or the staff recognizing that these residents are vulnerable, and they know they can take advantage of the situation. Sometimes the abuse is simply due to the number of employees working at the nursing home. If the nursing home is understaffed, they may not have enough employees available to properly care for all of the residents. None of these of course are excuses for taking advantage of the elderly. They are trusting these staff members with their life, and they deserve to be treated like family.

How common is nursing home abuse?

It is far more common than it should be. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2017 and 2018, 1 in 6 adults aged 60 or older suffered some type of abuse while in a community setting. The World Health Organization also reported that 2 out of every 3 nursing home staff members reported that they abused nursing home residents over the past year. When it comes to the facilities themselves, nearly 1 out of every 3 nursing homes in the US have been issued citations for abuse to the elderly.

What are the warning signs of nursing home abuse?

Obviously, if you ever hear your loved one complaining about something that is happening to them, take it seriously. If you begin to notice changes to their physical appearance such as unexplained bruises or cuts, you should investigate. If you notice that your loved ones are more emotional than normal, if they seem scared or have anxiety that was not there before, you should investigate. If you notice that the bank account has money that has gone unaccounted for, or if you notice that they seem to always be getting sick or are hungry, these could also be warning signs that something is not right.

What should you do if you feel like you or someone you know has been abused?

If you or someone you know is in a nursing home and you have reason to believe that abuse is taking place, act now. Alert the authorities if you feel like there has been illegal activity. The next thing you will want to do is get an attorney involved who can sue the nursing home facility for the pain your loved one is experiencing. It is never okay for a nursing home facility to take advantage of a resident. Whether it be the result of physical abuse or mental abuse, they should be held responsible. The attorneys at the Lopez Law Group are always available to speak. We can be reached at 727-933-0015. Our consultations are always free and we will be able to let you know whether or not you have a good case.