Today, there are over 3.2 million people living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities in the United States. While many nursing home residents are properly taken care of, as many as 1 in 6 may become the victim of abuse or neglect every year. Elder abuse is an issue that is too frequently overlooked, but one that can cause serious harm. Seniors who have been abused have a 300 percent greater chance of death in the following 3 years than those who are not abused.
Note that abuse is a condition or event that causes physical, sexual, or psychological harm, whereas neglect occurs when a patient's needs are not taken care of, usually unintentionally. Three-fourths of nursing home abuse cases are perpetrated by caregivers, but other times they are a result of Resident to Resident Abuse, a situation where one resident is allowed to abuse another. In both situations, the overseeing care facility may be at fault.
Federal nursing home regulations state that "the resident has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion." Despite these laws, elder abuse in nursing homes continues to be a problem. Nursing home abuse can be particularly hard to detect due to conditions that impair a patient's mental state (like Alzheimer's, dementia, etc.), isolation, shame, intimidation, and more. If you suspect someone you love is being abused in a nursing home, look for these common signs:
● Broken bones or fractures
● Bruising, cuts, or welts
● Bed sores
● Frequent infections
● Signs of dehydration
● Mood swings and emotional outbursts
● Reclusiveness or refusal to speak
● Refusal to eat or take medications
● Unexplained weight loss
● Poor physical appearance or lack of cleanliness
● Changes in mental status
● Caregivers that do not want patient to be left alone with others
● Instances of wandering/elopement
● Pressure ulcers (bed sores)
● Unsanitary and unclean conditions
● Fear of being touched
● Wanting to be isolated from others
Not all patients who exhibit one or more of these symptoms is the victim of abuse, but any of these signs are grounds for further investigation. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact Friedman Law for more information and representation in your case.