A big milestone that often occurs later in life is a move to a new living situation. In many cases, elderly individuals get to a point where the home they have lived in for years can no longer support their needs. Sometimes, that home is downright dangerous for their more fragile bodies. At this point, some may choose to downsize to a one-story home where stairs are no longer a problem and nearby care services are conveniently located. For those with a higher need for medical care and attention, a move to a nursing home may be necessary.
Nursing homes serve a vital function in our society. When elderly individuals are unable to live on their own, either because of their high need for medical care or because of a loss of their ability to do daily tasks, nursing homes can step in and bear the responsibility of their care.
Unfortunately, there are also problems with nursing homes in this country, the greatest of which is the capacity for abuse or neglect. Older people are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect because of two reasons. First, they are less capable of defending themselves. Second, they may be unable to advocate for themselves. Nursing home abuse can manifest in a myriad of ways.
Emotional abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse in a nursing home. Though staff members are meant to provide a certain standard of care to every resident, there can be individuals with bad intentions in these positions that will use their authority to emotionally abuse those in their charge. They might yell, make fun of, threaten, or verbally abuse the individual, especially if oversight is not possible. If a resident forgets something, the staff member could react poorly and make the resident feel flustered or guilty for forgetting. It could even be as cruel as telling a resident that their family and friends do not want to see them or don’t care about them.
Most residents in a nursing home have medications that they take regularly. There might be multiple times throughout the day when they are supposed to take their meds, and often it is up to the staff to keep them organized and help them stay on schedule with their pills and know what precautions are involved with painkillers. Unfortunately, this makes it an easy area for mistakes to happen. Staff could forget to have a particular resident take their pills at a certain time. Or, a staff member could decide to make things easier on themselves and tell the resident to take more than what they should at once to get it all over with. Maybe they withhold a certain medication for some reason. Medication failures are a common iteration of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Violence Between Residents
Staff members are not the only ones that can cause harm to a nursing home resident. Other patients at the facility could be involved in an incident where your loved one gets hurt somehow, even though the staff should have been on-hand to prevent incidents like this from occurring. People who are experiencing chronic pain can often get frustrated easily, especially when combined with mental decline, so residents in a nursing home can be a danger to each other just as much as the staff could be a danger to them. A conversation with a nursing home abuse lawyer also revealed that understaffing is a big problem due to the rising number of elderly populations, so oversight is more difficult.
One of the worst-case scenarios for nursing home abuse is when things get physical between staff and residents. Maybe a resident is having a hard time understanding what they are supposed to be doing and the staff member gets frustrated, so they grab and squeeze their arm very hard or hit them. This tragic incident can be traumatizing and very dangerous for the resident, especially in their more fragile state. Physical abuse can manifest in a lot of ways, including shoving, aggressive grabbing, hitting, or simply not physically assisting an immobile patient that needs it. Signs of this type of abuse could include bruises, swelling, skin discolorations, or a resident seeming afraid of a particular staff member.
What Can You Do?
If you ever think that a loved one in a nursing home is dealing with abuse or neglect, then contact a nursing home lawyer immediately. It is crucial that the facility and staff are held accountable for putting your loved one in danger, and you may be able to win compensation for your family member to cover the cost of any damages. You should also alert the authorities if the situation calls for it. Don’t let your loved one continue to suffer if you notice anything that could indicate that abuse or neglect is happening to them in the nursing home. Take action and make sure that they will have a positive experience going forward.