What You Need To Know To Protect Yourself and Loved Ones From Nursing Home Abuse
The Ultimate Guide to Nursing Home Rights - Page 1 of 10

As the “baby boomer” generation matures, more and more families are trusting nursing homes to care for their elderly loved ones.  Approximately 1.5 million Americans live in nursing homes today, and it is estimated that by 2050, the number of nursing home residents will triple.  As the number of nursing home residents rises, so does the number of tragic instances of nursing home abuse and neglect.

A nursing home should always be a safe haven for its residents; unfortunately, that’s not always the case.  Over 40% of nursing home residents have reported nursing home abuse; more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.  A 2020 study found that well over 6 in 10 nursing home employees admitted to committing some form of nursing home abuse.  With these cases comes a loss of dignity, autonomy, and quality of life.  While some nursing home facilities provide adequate care, others fall short, causing immense suffering for residents and their families.

At MattLaw®, we believe these numbers are absolutely unacceptable.  If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect in Florida or Georgia, our dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys at MattLaw® can help.   We handle nursing home abuse cases throughout the states of Florida and Georgia.   Call us at (813) 222-2222 for a free confidential consultation to learn your rights.

What you need to know to protect yourself and loved ones from Nursing Home Abuse

Florida and Georgia Nursing Home Abuse
Chapter #1: What is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse generally refers to an intentional act, or failure to act, that causes or creates a risk of harm to a resident, regardless of  their age.   The abuse can come at the hands of a nursing home employee, staff member, or another resident.  Nursing home abuse can also come from a visitor or other third person who the nursing home allows to interact with a resident.  

Classifications of nursing home abuse vary by type and severity.

The Most Common Types Of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect are:

General Neglect:

Neglect is a catchall term that describes any degree of indifference and carelessness towards a nursing home resident.  

General Nursing Home Neglect includes failures to provide for a patient’s basic needs, including:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter/shade
  • Clothing
  • Companionship
  • Basic hygiene
  • Medical care
  • Assistance with activities of daily living
  • Failing to report injury
  • Failing to report illness
  • Failing to report a mental health issue
  • Failing to attend to the resident’s living space, such that sanitation or hygiene issues arise
  • Leaving residents unattended for long periods of time
  • Accidental exposure to loud noises
  • Accidental exposure to extreme heat or cold

Our loved ones’ quality of life in their golden years should be one of comfort.  It should be a time for them to relax, look back upon the quality of their life, and their contributions to their family and community.  Sadly, there are preventable situations where nursing homes turn their back on their residents’ most basic needs.  Our elders are vulnerable, and when they are exploited, sometimes the only thing that can be done to hold these bad nursing homes accountable is to file suit.  Our American justice system is designed to give access to our jury system to expose these abuses, and to deter poorly run nursing homes from continuing their abusive practices.

Florida and Georgia Nursing Home Abuse
Chapter #2: Physical Abuse - What is Physical Nursing Home Abuse?

Physical Abuse –  What is Physical Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home injuries arising from physical abuse are 100% avoidable.  

Physical abuse occurs when a nursing home resident experiences pain, injury, illness, functional impairment, distress or death as a result of the intentional use of physical force, and may include any of the following actions:

  • Pushing
  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Slapping
  • Biting
  • Pinching
  • Shoving
  • Force-feeding
  • Scratching
  • Spitting
  • Burning
  • Intentional exposure to loud noises
  • Intentional exposure to extreme heat or cold

Instances of physical injuries require immediate attention, and some may even become life-threatening if not immediately addressed.  However, nursing home employees who perform these intentional harmful actions never want to be exposed, so they hide their deeds.  They hide or lie about the cause of injuries so they are not criminally prosecuted, or fired from their job.  This cycle of intentional acts, and hiding the truth from the families, must be stopped.  Sadly, only when the management of a nursing home is held accountable for their lack of supervision, lack of adequate staffing, lack of training, and poor background investigations of their employees, will this stop.

Florida and Georgia Nursing Home Abuse
Chapter #3: Emotional Abuse - What is Nursing Home Emotional Abuse?

Emotional Abuse – What is Nursing Home Emotional Abuse?

Verbal and nonverbal emotional abuse and manipulation that is causing the nursing home resident to experience:

  • Fear
  • Anguish
  • Mental pain
  • Distress and/or disorientation

Nursing home emotional abuse can cause long-term damage, including a loss of self-worth, confidence, and trust, with an increase in suspicion or paranoia.  Any instance of psychological or emotional abuse should be taken seriously and addressed swiftly.

Emotional abuse includes actions such as:

  • Berating
  • Cursing
  • Threatening, verbally or nonverbally
  • Lying
  • Harassing
  • Manipulating
  • Humiliating
  • Disrespecting
  • Isolating
  • Intentionally disorienting the resident

Nursing home residents deserve autonomy, consideration, and the utmost respect.  In some of the most upsetting instances of emotional nursing home abuse, these values are lost due to verbal and nonverbal emotional abuse and manipulation, often causing the resident to experience fear, anguish, mental pain, distress and/or disorientation.

Florida and Georgia Nursing Home Abuse
Chapter #4: Sexual Abuse - What is Nursing Home Sexual Abuse?

Sexual Abuse –  What is Nursing Home Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse can happen at any age and is no less damaging in older populations. Circumstances surrounding Elder rape may involve an employee or another resident of the nursing home.  If the abuse is coming from another resident,  the nursing home has an obligation to protect and prevent the resident from sexual abuse from other residents.  Sexual abuse is defined as the intentional act of violating a resident in a sexual manner. Nursing home sexual abuse includes any of the following:

 

 

  • Improper touching
  • Coercion to perform sexual acts
  • Sexual harassment
  • Emotional and psychological damage related to sexual contact
  • Physical suffering related to sexual contact
  • Forced nudity
  • Taking of sexually explicit photographs or videos of a resident
  • Nonconsensual sex (rape)

70% of elderly rape cases come from residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALF).  Sadly, residents with dementia are vulnerable to being victims of sexual abuse in a nursing home.  

Nursing home facilities must:

  • Have written policies and procedures to prohibit, prevent, and investigate abuse
  • Train staff on what constitutes abuse and the procedures for reporting incidents or allegations of sexual abuse
  • Not employ anyone who has been found guilty of physical or sexual abuse by a court of law

When a nursing home or ALF receives information suspecting any incident of sexual abuse, they must:

  • Take steps to prevent further potential abuse of the resident
  • Report the abuse to law enforcement
  • Conduct a thorough investigation of the abuse
  • Thoroughly document and report the result of the investigation
  • They should notify the family.

Be on the lookout for the warning signs of abuse. These warning signs include: bruises around inner thighs, the genital area or breasts;  unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, pain, or irritation; new difficulty sitting or walking,  torn, stained or bloodied underclothing, or  unexplained genital infections or sexually transmitted diseases.

If you suspect sexual abuse, you should take these steps to report elder abuse, document elder abuse, and to prevent future elder abuse:

  1. Ensure the resident is safe from further contact by the abuser.
  2. Document the signs of abuse.
  3. Report the abuse to the nursing home administrator.
  4. Call 911 and report the abuse to the police. The resident should avoid bathing, or washing or changing clothing or bedding, brushing their teeth, or even urinating to help preserve evidence that can be used by law enforcement to collect DNA samples of the attacker.
  5. Seek medical attention for the resident, usually an ambulance and hospital care in an emergency department.
  6. Seek out support from the local rape victims services.
  7. Report the abuse to the state.  
    1. In Florida, call the Adult Protective Services Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800 96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).   
      1. https://elderaffairs.org/programs-services/elder-protection-programs/#:~:text=How%20to%20Report%20Elder%20Abuse%2C%20Neglect%2C%20and%20Exploitation&text=To%20report%20by%20phone%20%E2%80%93%20call,number%20is%20available%2024%2F7.
    2. In Georgia, call the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services 1-866-55-AGING (1-866-552-4464).
      1. https://aging.georgia.gov/report-elder-abuse/adult-protective-services-aps
  8. Try to stay connected with the victim periodically to monitor how they are recovering from the abuse, and to make sure the proper steps are being taken to provide medical and psychological support to them.

Florida and Georgia Nursing Home Abuse
Chapter #5: Financial Abuse - What is Nursing Home Financial Abuse?

Financial Abuse – What is Nursing Home Financial Abuse?

Many people move their loved ones into nursing homes to provide a sense of security.  Financial abuse strips that security away.   Financial abuse or exploitation includes any illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of a resident’s money, property, assets, or benefits for the benefit of someone other than the resident.

Financial abuse includes any intentional monetary exploitation of a resident.  This type of abuse typically begins with befriending the resident and establishing trust.  For this reason, we recommend that families pay close attention to their loved ones’ caretakers, and monitor their loved one’s social group carefully.  Look for signs of:

  • New credit cards
  • New bank accounts
  • Signing power of attorney documents
  • New wills being signed
  • Unauthorized charges
  • Any change in the financial affairs of your loved one
  • Unpaid bills
  • Cash withdrawals

If you find that a loved one is being financially exploited by a nursing home, or an employee of a nursing home, you should not hesitate to notify the police, the nursing home facility, and MattLaw®.

Nursing Home Abuse Can Be Stopped If Someone Steps Up and Says No More!

The Bottom Line – Nursing Home Abuse must stop!

At MattLaw®, we believe protecting the most vulnerable members of our society is our responsibility.   The abuse must stop.  The number of nursing home abuse victims is absolutely unacceptable and only by holding nursing homes accountable with a civil suit can we prevent further abuse and neglect. 

If you suspect nursing home abuse, take these simple steps:

1. Document what you have discovered with photographs.

2. Seek immediate appropriate medical attention for your loved one, taking an ambulance to a hospital or consultation with a medical doctor.  Take steps to prevent any further decline in their physical and mental condition.

3. Call MattLaw® nursing home abuse attorneys.

If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect in Florida or Georgia, our dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys at MattLaw® can help.   We handle nursing home abuse cases throughout Florida and Georgia.   Call us at (813) 222-2222 for a free confidential consultation to learn your rights and what can be done to help your family.  

Time is not on your side.  Evidence is disappearing, witnesses are harder to find, and their memories fade.  If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call MattLaw to find out what can be done.

 

 

 

 

 

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