Although individual members of a nursing home staff can cause nursing home abuse, the problems often stem from failures within the facility. Low wages, understaffing, and inadequate training can contribute to employee burnout and frustration. This makes the elderly people in their care vulnerable to abuse.
The definition of nursing home abuse is any kind of abuse that happens to the residents of one of these facilities. The types of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial fraud and abuse
Sadly, more than one million cases of nursing home abuse are reported each year. Whether you have a loved in long-term care or you’re considering it, you need to know the information in this article. We’ll go over the signs that abuse may be taking place, examples of abuse, and what to do if you believe your elderly family member is being abused.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Understanding the signs of abuse is your first line of defense when it comes to elder abuse in a nursing home. The signs that your loved one may be experiencing abuse in a care facility include:
- Contusions and bruising
- Broken bones and fractures
- Broken hip
- Heavy medication sedation
- Being denied access during visiting hours
- Frequent or unreported illnesses
- Nursing home violence between residents
Now let’s look at some examples of the types of nursing home abuse that can happen.
Examples of Nursing Home Abuse
Example 1: Financial Abuse – You know your grandmother received a check. It was cashed, but no one is legally allowed to cash it except you. The bank shows you a copy of the check, and your grandmother’s signature is forged. You later learn that a nursing home employee has been imprisoned for check fraud in the past, but it wasn’t detected during the hiring process.
Example 2: Emotional Abuse – Your grandfather doesn’t seem like himself anymore. You’ve noticed he seems withdrawn, and you become concerned. You ask another resident, and she confides in you that one of the care facility’s employees has been ridiculing and shaming your grandfather because she resents changing his diapers.
Example 3: Physical Abuse – Your elderly mother has bruises and she is reluctant to discuss what happened. One day you receive a call from the facility and you’re told she has broken her hip. She also refuses to admit how she broke her hip. Under pressure, she admits an orderly has been hitting her, finally knocking her to the ground.
Example 4: Sexual Abuse – Your aunt is experiencing frequent urinary tract infections. She sustains a pelvic injury, and while she is in the hospital she tests positive for a sexually transmitted infection. After being questioned by a doctor, she admits that a worker at the home has been sexually assaulting her on a regular basis.
If Your Loved One Is a Victim
The first thing you may want to do if you see signs of nursing home abuse is to make an official report with the long-term care facility and your local state authorities. You can find the information for your state’s Adult Protective Services department on the website of the National Council on Aging.
Another thing you may want to consider is seeking legal counsel. You may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the facility and any providers who participated in the abuse of an elderly person. In addition, you may also want to make a report with the police, who may press charges.
If Your Loved One Is in Immediate Danger
If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, you may want to call 911 to report it to an operator. All other situations are best brought up to the nursing home’s administration. If they won’t make the necessary corrections in the flaws in their system, you may need to find a new care facility.