Nursing Home Abuse: Learn the Facts, Recognize the Signs

When their elderly loved ones need expert care, many families turn to nursing homes. Competent nursing homes offer not just housing but also medical assistance, camaraderie, and the respect our elderly loved ones deserve. Many nursing homes are held to similar standards of care as hospitals and other inpatient medical facilities. As more “Baby Boomers” move into this phase of their lives, nursing homes will become a critical component of a country’s healthcare model.

Unfortunately, some nursing homes fall starkly short of their commitments, both to their residents and to the communities they serve. When a nursing home neglects their residents, nursing home abuse can result.

Nursing home negligence (and abuse) is far too common in our country. The World Health Organization lays out the problem starkly:

Around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. Rates in institutional settings, such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, are higher still, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages into retirement, it is likely that the frequency of nursing home abuse will increase with the population. Nursing home abuse is a serious problem that can lead to physical injuries including broken bones and traumatic brain injury; psychological damage including PTSD; financial ruin; and even premature or wrongful death.

What is a nursing home abuse injury?

There are several forms of nursing home abuse. In some cases, a single instance of grievous negligence becomes evident: noting a suspicious injury, witnessing employee misconduct, or discovering missing money. In other cases, nursing home abuse reveals itself gradually through increasingly inappropriate acts of abuse and neglect. 

This blog will explore the many faces of nursing home abuse and offer practical advice about what to do to prepare for your nursing home abuse lawsuit.

Speak With A Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Now

Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

So what constitutes nursing home abuse? Nursing home abuse cases can manifest in multiple ways and may take weeks or even months to evince. As we have reported, there are five signs of nursing home abuse:

  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Sexual 
  4. Financial, and 
  5. Neglect (Negligence)

Another challenge in recognizing nursing home abuse can be in communication with your elderly loved one. Victims of nursing home abuse are predisposed to injury and dementia, so it may be difficult to recognize the signs at first. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to ask questions that assess the situation and determine if the care facility should be held responsible for your loved ones’ harm.

DID YOU KNOW? Nursing home abuse is not limited to physical abuse; not all cases involve broken bones and ER visits. Nursing home abuse can be emotional (ignoring and/or isolating the resident), sexual (unexplained sexually transmitted infections and/or guarded behavior), neglect (malnutrition and/or dehydration), and financial exploitation (unusual bank account activity and/or unanticipated changes to the resident’s will and/or power of attorney). Be on the lookout for all these types of elder abuse at your nursing home facility.

Read Mattlaw’s Ultimate Guide to Nursing Home Rights

What is the most common type of nursing home abuse?

According to the NCEA, psychological abuse is the most common type of elder/nursing home abuse. Studies show that nursing home residents are more likely to report financial exploitation to authorities than physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect. Often, several forms of elder abuse will present concurrently.

Be aware of any sudden changes in your loved one’s mood or behavior, as this can be an early indicator of psychological abuse. They may also have reluctance to speak in front of certain staff members, or show a sudden disinterest in their normal activities. Finally, watch for any inconsistencies in how your loved one talks about their care, as this could mean that they are being coerced into silence or misrepresentation by nursing home staff members.

What types of evidence would you report for a case of elder abuse?

According to The Beat, a podcast produced by the United States Department of Justice: “you want to look for bruises, rashes, and bedsores. Bedsores can be absolutely indicative of abuse or neglect. [Take photographs], and get statements from neighbors, social workers, family members, physicians, and nurses.” —Officer Cherie Hill, Anaheim Police Department

Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney as soon as you suspect nursing home abuse. Evidence is easier to gather when the incident occurred recently. Start by contacting MattLaw to begin your claim: 813-222-2222.

Is elder financial abuse hard to prove?

Some financial abuse cases are straightforward: forged signatures, home improvement scams, or other consumer-protection issues that are clearly fraudulent. Other cases of financial abuse come down to the victim’s understanding of the defendant’s intentions, and these can be a little more complicated. Cases may involve convincing the person to give up money or personal property, and/or coercing an elderly person to alter their estate planning documents, including their will and living trust.

The elderly person may not understand what they were agreeing to at the time. In these cases, it is highly advisable to hire a nursing home abuse attorney to stand up for their rights. Call MattLaw today to discuss your financial abuse case: 813-222-2222.

What To Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse

Recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse is only the first step in keeping your loved ones safe. Taking immediate and decisive action is a critical component in protecting them; this may require hiring a nursing home abuse attorney to review their case.

In the meantime, here are four steps to protect yourself and your nursing home abuse claim:

  1. Document Everything: Assisted living facilities are required to keep detailed records of their care routine. Family members are able to request these documents. Additionally, take notes and photos outlining your observations, conversations, and formal complaints made to the medical care team.
  2. Report Your Concerns: Always report your concerns to the management of the nursing home as soon as you see them. Nursing home law firms often hear the defense of “Why didn’t you report this earlier?” Speak up when you see something that concerns you about your loved one’s medical care.
  3. Contact Authorities: If you suspect your loved one is in immediate danger, or you have reported your concerns and seen no positive change, it’s time to contact your Florida’s Adult Protective Services (APS). This organization is responsible for investigating reports of elder abuse, and will help you file a nursing home complaint.
  4. Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney: When a nursing home facility fails to care for its residents, you have the right to seek legal counsel. Consulting with an attorney specializing in elder law or nursing home abuse can provide guidance on how to proceed and help protect the rights of your loved one.

Why do I need a nursing home abuse attorney?

When you or a loved one has experienced nursing home abuse and neglect, you may be tempted to resolve your dispute without legal representation. While you are within your rights to do so, studies show that attorney-represented cases settle more quickly, and for more money, than self-represented cases.

Why is this? An experienced nursing home abuse attorney will understand what evidence to look for in your case to help make your claim stronger. He or she will also be able to apply relevant Florida laws when making your case. Finally, your nursing home attorney will act as your long-term-care ombudsman, helping to secure damages that cover your ongoing medical expenses.

Speak With A Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Now

Nursing home abuse is a sad reality here in Florida—but there is hope. Trusting your case to the experienced elder abuse experts at MattLaw is the first step to recovery. Consultations are always free and confidential, and we are not paid until you are. Call us today to begin the process: 813-222-2222.

Matt Powell

About Matt

Matt Powell is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar who represents injured victims and their families. He is an experienced personal injury trial attorney who has been practicing since 1989 in Tampa, Florida. If you have any questions, feel free to call him at 813-222-2222 today.

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