The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 1.5 million people now live in nursing homes in the U.S. Much of this is due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and the increased need for medical and long-term care.
As the needs of older Americans grow for this type of care, there will continue to be a strain on the system, and there will be an increase in the incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect. Studies released by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reveal that as many as one in ten residents of nursing homes have experienced some type of abuse over the previous year. Considering that just a fraction of all incidents of nursing home abuse are reported, the actual figure is startlingly higher.
Knowing that this is taking place, it is essential that loved ones understand the warning signs of nursing home neglect and abuse. The fact is that many of the caretakers and providers in these facilities are the perpetrators of this harm, so you can’t rely on them to spot and report an incident of wrongdoing.
Obvious Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The warning signs of nursing home abuse can vary by situation and person because there are so many different types of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, the most common and obvious signs of nursing home abuse are physical. Families should be concerned about the following types of physical issues:
- Unexplained bruising or injuries
- Evidence of the use of restraints
- Swelling or bruising around the genitals
- The appearance of an unexplained sexually transmitted disease
While we say that these are obvious signs of abuse, they can be subtle because physical symptoms can often be confused with other issues such as pre-existing medical conditions. The facility might even try to blame it on the patient. This is why the involvement of family members with these facilities is essential.
Three Commonly Missed Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
There is never an excuse for any type of nursing home abuse, and some forms are more difficult to detect if you don’t know the particular signs and symptoms. Here are three commonly missed types of nursing home abuse and their signs:
1. Emotional Abuse. This occurs when staff or even other patients treat your loved one in a way that is intimidating, disrespectful, derogatory, and belittling. Common signs are a loved one becoming withdrawn, depressed, agitated, and frightened in the presence of certain staff.
2. Financial Exploitation. No one thinks that a trusted and licensed facility will financially exploit a patient, but this is far too common. Since seniors are vulnerable and often have assets or full insurance, they can become the subject of financial and insurance fraud. Common signs are new secrecy surrounding financial affairs, unpaid bills, and a rash of excessive and unnecessary treatments or equipment ordered by the facility.
3. Neglect or Abandonment. Just because your loved one is in a facility, that doesn’t mean that they are getting the care and attention you were promised. Caregivers might leave your loved ones unattended, isolated, and fail to care for their basic needs. Signs of neglect and abandonment include dehydration and malnutrition, soiled bedding and clothing, deteriorating personal hygiene, and evidence that medication is not being administered as prescribed.
Unfortunately, too many elderly family members will suffer in silence. They either don’t know that they are being abused, can’t communicate their feelings, or don’t want to burden their loved ones with this terrible situation. If you sense that something isn’t right, communicate your concerns to the facility management and take steps to immediately protect your loved one and your legal rights.
How Our Alabama Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Can Help
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, it’s important to act quickly and decisively. The experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Mann & Potter can report the abuse to the proper authorities and ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to protect your rights.
It’s vital that all information relative to the incident is thoroughly documented to ensure that reports are not altered or lost. Our legal team understands how to file these reports and make effective legal claims against a negligent facility and its employees.
At Mann & Potter, our personal injury attorneys will not hesitate to take a negligent party to court to hold them responsible for the harm they’ve caused. Our goal is to achieve the most positive outcome possible for you and your loved ones.
Contact our Birmingham office today at 205-879-9661 to schedule your free, no obligation case review. We will be your strongest legal advocate during this difficult time.