Nursing home abuse and neglect are significant problems in the United States. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that more than 1 in 10 nursing home residents say they experienced abuse or neglect. Nursing home abuse and neglect can happen in many ways. They can include verbal, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. It may be intentional or accidental, but it is always harmful to the residents.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elder abuse is any action that causes harm to an older person. Emotional abuse is one example of this. However, it can also include neglect or abandonment. Physical abuse is another example. Financial abuse is also included. If you or a loved one has been injured because of negligent care or by nursing home staff, find out your legal options and if you need a nursing home injury lawyer, click here.
When Does Negligence Become Emotional or Physical Abuse?
It is estimated that about 15% of all nursing homes in the United States have somehow abused and neglected their patients. There is a fine line between negligence and intentional abuse. Emotional and physical abuse can also be hard to identify. Most people think of physical and sexual abuse when they think about nursing home abuse and neglect. However, verbal and emotional abuse is far more common and can be as harmful as physical and sexual abuse.
Emotional abuse can be as simple as making a resident or patient feel like they are not as crucial as another resident. It can also include humiliating a resident or patient by not participating in activities or forcing them to eat meals in the bathroom. Emotional abuse can also prevent a resident from seeing family or friends or make a resident or patient feel like a burden to their family. Emotional abuse often comes before physical abuse, which can sometimes cause a resident or patient to try to kill themselves.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Residents Being Abused and Neglected
It's hard for many families to tell when their loved ones are mistreated because the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect are often hard to detect. Various warning signs can help determine if your loved one is being abused. However, the warning signs of nursing home abuse are sometimes more pronounced. Physical abuse is often the first sign of abuse. If you notice any bruising, cuts, swelling, or pain in the victim's joints, they might be victims of physical abuse.
You can also watch for malnutrition or dehydration signs, indicating that the abuser is withholding proper nutrition or food. Not all forms of abuse leave physical symptoms. If the victim of abuse cannot communicate, you can look for pain or discomfort in their facial expressions or excessive fear or anxiety.
Neglect is another form of abuse when the abuser does not provide the victim with proper mental or physical health care. For example, an abuser may prevent the victim from bathing or brushing their teeth. They may also not provide the victim with proper nourishment or clothing. If you notice that the victim is unkempt, unbathed, dirty or malnourished, they might be victims of neglect.
Financial Exploitation of Seniors
Financial abuse is a common form of abuse in nursing homes. It includes the theft of money, property and other valuables from nursing home patients by nursing home staff and other caretakers. It also consists of denying access to funds and property by family members, attorneys, and nursing home staff. It can include the theft of Social Security benefits, pension checks, and other government benefits by nursing homes and caretakers.
The most common way this happens is by having family and friends sign a power of attorney (POA) and then stealing the person's money and possessions. Many older people live on a fixed income and the scammers know it. They come in, befriend the seniors, and talk them into signing over their power of attorney. They can withdraw money from the victim's bank accounts, charge their credit cards, and sell their possessions with a POA.
Legal Options for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse
Federal and state laws protect residents of nursing homes. First, they have protection from willful and wanton neglect, physical abuse and corporal punishment by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The Rehabilitation Act and the Adult Protective Services Law protect residents from neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.
Bringing up the subject of a possible instance of elder abuse or neglect with anybody may be difficult. A pleasant living environment, respect, and excellent treatment are all guaranteed by the Department of Health in all states for senior citizens. If you are worried about the safety of a loved one, you should contact the adult protective services in your area. If your situation meets the criteria for legal protection, your family or a personal injury lawyer may be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf for the harm you've suffered.