If you have close family members or friends in a nursing home, you want to be able to trust that those responsible for their well-being will take care of their physical, emotional, and medical needs. Sadly, around one in every six seniors suffer from nursing home abuse every year.
Types of Abuse
Nursing home staff are responsible for all of a senior’s basic needs. This includes providing personal care, supplying adequate food, water, medicine, and clothing, maintaining sanitary living conditions, and helping the resident remain active. An oversight of any of these is neglect. Although neglect is often unintentional and tends to be caused by a shortage of staff, this by no means makes it less serious than any other form of abuse.
Physical abuse is considered anything that causes the senior physical harm. It may take the form of hitting, pushing, or pinching.
As there are no obvious physical signs, emotional abuse is often difficult to identify. Nursing home staff may physically abuse residents through threatening, shouting, humiliating, or ignoring. Other forms of abuse include separating a senior from others or refusing to allow a resident to participate in activities.
Although it can be physical, sexual abuse is often psychological, which means it leaves no marks. Sexual abuse of this type may involve taking photos of seniors, forcing them to watch pornography or sex acts or making them undress in the presence of others.
The final type of abuse is financial exploitation: any occurrence where a staff member interferes with a senior’s financial matters. This includes of theft (of money, checks, or possessions), misuse of bank accounts or credit cards, forgery, and stealing a senior’s identity (such as by applying for credit in the name of the resident).
It is also common for caregivers to create schemes to cheat seniors out of their money. These can consist of fake investment opportunities, telling residents that they have won a prize, or setting up scam charities.
Common signs of abuse include:
- Injuries, including cuts, bruises, and broken bones
- Bed sores
- Change in mood or personality
- Refusal to eat or speak
- Poor personal hygiene
- Weight loss
- Skin infections
- Depression, anger, or distance from friends and family
The presence of just one or two of these signs may indicate something other than nursing home abuse, whereas multiple indications are a significant cause for concern. In any case, you should always investigate further.
If you believe that a loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, contact a personal injury lawyer. With legal support, you can hold the nursing home accountable and receive compensation for your relative.