The Ugly Truth Behind Nursing Home Abuse
When you are faced with the decision of placing your elderly parent in nursing home care, no doubt you are plagued with feelings of guilt and fear. We all want to ensure our parents have quality care in their golden years, but the rising costs of caring for the elderly can sometimes limit our choices. While there are many nursing homes that provide quality care for their residents, elder abuse is a national problem. How can you determine if the nursing home you choose for your elderly parent is safe?
Defining Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can take on many forms, and some abuse can be hidden more easily than others. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), elder abuse includes:
- Physical abuse – causing physical pain or injury
- Sexual abuse – any sexual activity with an older adult where they are unable to understand or knowingly consent to, or being physically forced against their will
- Emotional abuse – verbal assaults, name calling or threats of abuse
- Confinement – restraining an elder adult without medical necessity
- Neglect – failing to provide adequate care for the elderly adult. This can include passive neglect such as not providing adequate food or clothing, or active neglect, such as withholding medication, or exposing the person to harm.
- Financial abuse – stealing the elder adult’s resources or personal property
It is no secret that nursing homes are habitually understaffed, making care for residents difficult, but this does not excuse abusive behavior.
Warning Signs of Abuse
The NCOA offers advice on how to spot elder abuse. Pay attention to bruises, broken bones, burns or other injuries that cannot be explained. Look for bed sores, evidence that your parent may be suffering from neglect. If your parent seems withdrawn or more combative than usual, this could be a sign of emotional or sexual abuse. If you feel uncomfortable with the living situation, report it immediately.
Unfortunately, elder abuse is common in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six older adults over the age of 60 have been victims of some type of abuse. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 15% of nursing home residents have reported some type of abuse. These are only the reported cases. The chances are likely that this number is higher.
Resident on Resident Abuse
There is a distinct problem with caregiver abuse in nursing homes, but shocking statistics reveal that resident on resident abuse is an area of concern as well. A 2014 study conducted by Dr. Mark Lachs from Cornell University found that nearly 20% of the nursing home residents in the study suffered from aggressive encounters with fellow residents. These issues ranged from having their personal belongings stolen by other residents to being physically assaulted. The facility has a responsibility to protect its residents from assaults committed by other residents.
How to Protect Your Loved One
Your parent has the right to be protected from abuse while residing in a nursing home. They have the right to be visited by family and friends, they should be able to participate in their care plan if able and they should be able to participate in any activities without the threat of harm from staff or other residents. It is the responsibility of the care center to protect their residents from harm inflicted by others. In order to protect against abuse, be aware of the conditions of the nursing home.
If you notice any bruises or other injuries that cannot be explained, or if your parent complains of being abused, do not hesitate in reporting the abuse to your local Adult Protective Services. It is also advised to seek legal counsel to protect your parent or loved one. The office of Dwayne L. Brown has the experience necessary to investigate your claim of abuse and will work diligently to get you and your loved one the compensation you deserve. If you feel your loved one has suffered abuse at their nursing home, contact our office today at 678-505-0559 to schedule a consultation.
Posted on behalf of the Law Office of Dwayne L. Brown