Nursing home abuse is any harm caused to residents living in a nursing home. The abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, sexual, or neglect-based.
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), nursing homes are long-term care facilities for older adults. Services can range from basic housing to extensive medical and personal care. Either way, a nursing home should be a safe place.
If there’s a possibility of abuse, family members can take action. It’s important to know the signs and report any abusive activities. That may include speaking with a nursing home abuse lawyer.
What Counts as Resident Abuse in a Nursing Home?
Abuse can come from nursing home staff members, medical providers, or fellow residents. If the victim has suffered harm from someone else, it’s abuse. But abusive behaviors are not always obvious.
Here are six main types of resident abuse we’ve seen in nursing homes.
1. Physical Abuse
Family members might first suspect abuse for physical reasons. The resident could have cuts, bruises, or other injuries without a good explanation.
Some victims are not able to provide their sides of the stories. Loved ones feel forced to take staff members at their word until they can investigate further.
2. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse might not show up on the body, but it’s just as serious. A staff member or resident might yell or emotionally manipulate the victim. Changes in behavior or demeanor can sometimes be signs of emotional abuse.
3. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
Residents often feel fear, shame, or embarrassment about sexual assault or abuse. They may be unwilling or unable to tell loved ones about the abuse.
4. Financial Exploitation
Financial abuse is one of the highest forms of exploitation. Unfortunately, it can and does happen in nursing homes.
Many nursing home residents have saved up money throughout their lives to go towards their care or family members’ needs. Staff members might steal from residents or bully them into non-consenting financial decisions.
Nursing home residents often need extra care and supervision. Failing or refusing to provide adequate care is neglect, which is a type of abuse.
For example, staff members might fail to provide clean clothes or bedding to a resident. Not providing enough food or activities can also be a sign of neglect.
Abandonment is when someone has physical custody of an elder adult that they desert. This is a form of abuse that can happen in nursing homes.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), we don’t have specific data on nursing home abuse’s commonality. But experts believe that 1-2 million Americans aged 65 or older have suffered abuse or neglect.
If you or a loved one might be victims of abuse, talk to a nursing home abuse lawyer. You might have a legal claim for the damages you’ve suffered. To get a free consultation with a trusted attorney at John Foy & Associates, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.
Get the strong arm
The Most Common Abuse Complaints in Nursing Homes
Not all issues in nursing homes are abuse. However, loved ones should pay close attention to common complaints, especially those from residents. These issues might become serious or abusive without everyone realizing it.
Common complaints we see towards nursing homes include:
- Poor-quality or unhealthy food
- Lack of social interaction, causing residents to feel isolated
- Overworked staff and staffing shortages
- Slow response times to calls, emails, and resident requests
- Sleep disruptions while staff members perform overnight care
Nursing homes should be sensitive and responsive to concerns. Residents and family members should feel safe to contact the facility about issues. If there isn’t open communication, it could be a sign of deeper problems.
Pay attention to how the nursing home runs. Staff members should be involved in resident’s needs. If an employee is not fit for the job, the situation may spiral into abuse.
How to Know the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Family members should understand common signs of abuse in long-term care facilities. Loved ones might notice changes to an elder’s behavior, habits, or living environment.
The following signs could be considered abuse. If you’re not sure, call a nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss the details.
Common signs of physical abuse or neglect include:
- Cuts, scrapes, or bruises
- Broken bones or head injuries
- Unexplained falls or injuries
- Bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers)
- Dirty clothes, bedding, or living areas
- Frequent illnesses
- Unexplained death
Emotional abuse signs can include:
- Seeming upset, anxious, or depressed
- Being emotionally withdrawn or non-verbal
- Stress about returning home or talking to staff
- Wanting to isolate from other people
Financial abuse might include:
- Identify theft
- Missing checkbooks or credit cards
- Stolen cash or possessions
- Sudden withdrawals or payments from the resident’s account
- Transfer of assets that don’t make sense
Abuse isn’t always apparent at first. By the time the family notices something’s going on, the abuse could have been happening for years. This is often devastating for the resident and their family.
Why Is Nursing Home Care So Bad?
Not all long-term care is terrible, but poor care is too common. The main reason is often a shortage of quality staff members.
Nursing home residents need more care than other types of facility guests. Many elders need around-the-clock supervision due to age and health decline. Nursing homes might not want to (or be unable to) pay for additional employees to care for residents.
But there is no excuse for abuse. If a resident is being harmed at the facility, someone should be held responsible. The nursing home or guilty staff member might be liable for the suffering that took place.
How to Report Abuse in a Nursing Home
If you suspect nursing home abuse, don’t wait to take action. You can report the abuse and also learn your legal options.
You can report abuse or neglect in a long-term care facility by contacting the Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR). The HFR is a subdivision of the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH).
We also highly recommend speaking with an attorney. The abuser could face criminal and civil charges for what they’ve done.
Talk to a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
At John Foy & Associates, we can help you bring a personal injury claim for nursing home abuse. To learn more during a free consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.