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Understanding Nursing Home Abuse

Posted by attorney Joseph Lichtenstein

Was your loved one the victim of nursing home abuse? Continue reading to learn about the warning signs of nursing home abuse and what can be done to deal with these types of cases.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, there were nearly 6 million elder abuse cases in 2010. In fact, up to 9.5% of the elderly population suffered abuse from their caregivers last year. When nursing homes were investigated, it was discovered that about 36% were found to be in violation of laws regarding elder abuse. With this said, how do you know if your loved one has been abused? The elderly are more at risk of being victims of abuse than others because they are less able to stand up for themselves. Whether they are physically weak or are suffering from a mental condition like dementia, these issues make them more susceptible to abuse.

In order to be better able to detect elder abuse, your family and friends need to be aware of the different types of abuse. Physical abuse includes hitting, shoving, pinching, kicking, or any other type of violence towards the victim. Physical abuse also includes using restraints on the victim or giving them drugs for non-medical reasons. Some warning signs to be on the lookout for in regards to physical abuse include any unexplained injuries, cuts, bruises, problems with their medication, or the caregiver refusing to allow the victim to see their family.

Emotional abuse is another common type of abuse in nursing homes and other care facilities. This could range from bullying to humiliation to intimidation to ignoring them. The caregiver may attempt to isolate the victim from their family or from other patients. This type of abuse can be more difficult to detect, so it is important to be vigilant when you are visiting an elderly loved one. Any type of controlling behavior or negative comments could point to a bigger problem. The victim may also begin to exhibit behaviors similar to dementia, such as mumbling or rocking.

There have also been reports of sexual abuse occurring in nursing home facilities. This could range from actual rape to forcing them to watch pornographic material to forcing the victim to take off their clothes. Especially in cases where the victim is already confused because of health issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia, they may not be able to tell anyone about the abuse. In other situations the victim may be too afraid or ashamed to tell the authorities what happened. Signs that could point to sexual abuse include bleeding, torn underclothing, bruising, or a sexually transmitted disease.

Another type of abuse to be aware of is financial abuse. Caregivers may exploit the position of trust they possess in order to profit financially. There have been cases where the nursing home staff has accessed their bank accounts, stolen their identity, stolen cash or other possessions, and even used intimidation or deception to force the victim to change their will. Family members should keep a careful watch over the finances of those who are in nursing homes so that they will be able to notice any unusual activity.

What should you do if you have noticed signs of possible elder abuse? First of all, you should not take any risks with the safety and health of those who are in a nursing home. Even if you are not sure that abuse is taking place, you can still report it so that a proper investigation can take place. Always make sure you take any complaints by patients seriously and intervene when necessary. Government agencies like Adult Protective Services can not only protect your loved one, but ensure the same thing does not happen to someone else. You can also get in touch with a legal representative so that they can look into the legal ramifications of your case.

Additional resources provided by the author

The Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein is a medical malpractice law firm with over 60 years of combined experience in New York. They have been able to handle cases of nursing home abuse, birth injuries, misdiagnosis, surgical injuries, and more. Over the years, they have been able to secure their clients millions of dollars in compensation, including several multi-million dollar settlements. For four years in a row, they have been listed as Super Lawyers®, an honor only given to the top attorneys in each state. To learn more about this firm or how they could help you, please do not waste any time in getting in touch with their firm. Call today to learn more!

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