Nursing Home Abuse
When an individual loses the ability to take care of their personal, medical, and financial needs, it is often necessary to place them in a skilled nursing home. Family, relatives, and loved ones often struggle with this decision before placing their trust in the administration, medical team, and staff of a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Chronic neglect, as well as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse that occurs in nursing homes is a tragic breach of trust and one of the cruelest crimes that can occur. So many victims of this type of abuse have no voice and often no defenses against those who are trusted to take care of their needs. Families, friends, and loved ones are often unsure of their legal rights to intercede and act on behalf of their loved one.
Dana Bookbinder, Esq. at BOOKBINDER LAW, LLC is a zealous advocate for the elderly. As an elder law attorney, Ms. Bookbinder works with clients and their families to provide legal counsel as well as coordinate legal representation through a network of certified civil litigation lawyers. When nursing home abuse occurs, Ms. Bookbinder can ensure that the legal rights of the abused are protected and that the abuse stops immediately.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
While some cases of physical abuse are obvious, nursing home abuse does not always present itself clearly. Sexual and emotional abuse and neglect can be hard to detect unless family members know what signs to look for, such as:
- Depression or lethargy
- Frequent emergency room visits
- Frequent illness
- Poor hygiene
- Pressure sores
- Recurrent infections
- Restraint marks on wrists and ankles
- Soiled clothing
- Unexplained bruising, cuts, lacerations, or burns
- Weight loss
When any of these signs of abuse are present, it is imperative to report them immediately to the nursing staff and administration of the nursing home and request a full investigation.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
There are several types of nursing home abuse and neglect that can occur. The most common types of abuse include:
- Physical abuse: Broken bones, bruising, cuts, lacerations, burns, and unexplained marks on the body may be signs of physical abuse that can occur from hitting, pushing, aggressive manipulation, or pinching.
- Emotional abuse: Forms of emotional abuse includes insults, yelling, intimidation, threats, sarcasm, verbal degradation, isolation, and more. Symptoms of emotional abuse may be mistaken as signs of dementia and confusion. Moreover, nursing home residents may be reluctant to report the abuse for fear of retaliation.
- Sexual abuse: Any inappropriate touching, manipulation, or penetration of genitalia constitutes sexual abuse. Nursing home patients can also suffer sexual harassment in the form of inappropriate language, off-color jokes, and gestures of a sexual nature.
- Neglect: Deprivation of food, water, medical attention, medication, or personal care is a form of neglect. Patients can suffer from malnourishment, dehydration, bed sores, depression, anxiety, and infections from lack of attention.
Abuse and neglect are crimes against the elderly. Those responsible for the consequences of these acts can be held liable in civil litigation suits.
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse or Neglect
Family members, friends, and relatives of nursing home residents are the strongest advocates for the elderly. Regular visits will allow loved ones to monitor the physical and emotional health of residents. Unexplained changes in behavior or frequent health complications are signs that abuse could be taking place.
Prompt reporting of suspected abuse or neglect is imperative to protecting vulnerable nursing home residents. The first step to ending the abuse is to be vigilant in monitoring the patient’s overall health. Question them on bruises or frequent falls, trust their accounts of how they are being treated by the staff, and reassure them that they are safe to tell you about any mistreatment they are experiencing.
All information pertaining to possible abuse must be reported to the nurses at the nursing home as well as to the administration. Confronting staff members may not be the best way to handle abuse because residents may be subjected to retaliation. Keeping a close eye on each person responsible for the patient will allow family members to observe the interactions between the resident and staff members.
In cases where reported abuse is not fully investigated or remediated, family members can report their suspicions to local law enforcement officials, call the Elder Locator hotline, or refer to state agencies listed on the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA) or the Administration of Aging (AoA). Consultation with an experienced elder lawyer is advisable.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, call Dana Bookbinder at BOOKBINDER LAW, LLC at 856-722-8500 or 856-334-1800, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Marlton, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout the state.