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Posted by attorney Chris Limberopoulos

According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, nearly two million elder Americans are believed to be victims of abuse; however, only one in five cases are ever reported. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of elderly victims suffer at the hands of their caregiver and many of them suffer in silence. Whether they have Alzheimer's disease, or if they are too physically weak to tell anyone what is happening to them, too many nursing home abuse victims have nowhere to turn and nobody to turn to.

What exactly does elder abuse mean? It refers to the intentional, knowing, or negligent act that is committed by a caregiver or other person that causes harm to a vulnerable senior citizen. When elder abuse is perpetrated behind the walls of a nursing home, it is referred to as nursing home abuse. Nursing home abuse can include any of the following:

Physical Abuse – This can refer to inflicting any kind of pain upon the elderly individual such as choking, punching, squeezing their arms, tying them to the bed, poking them, pushing, hitting them or even sedating them with heavy narcotics.

Sexual Abuse – Any type of non-consensual sexual act including fondling, rape, forcing the person to undress or forcing the person to watch pornographic movies.

Emotional Abuse – This can include various types of verbal or nonverbal acts such as shouting at the person, criticizing them, ignoring them, or forcing them to be alone for hours on end.

Neglect– Failure to provide proper food or clothing, failure to clean or bathe them properly, allowing them to sit in soiled clothing, failure to provide appropriate shelter or medical care, or failure to keep their living quarters clean etc.

Financial Exploitation – Any type of misuse of the person's funds such as using their checking account, or their cash, stealing jewelry, committing identity theft, emptying their bank accounts, using their credit cards, opening bank accounts in the victim's name, or using their social security number to open lines of credit. With financial exploitation, the possibilities are endless.

As a concerned family member or friend, you should be aware of the tell-tale signs that there could be a problem at the nursing home. Some common signs of abuse include:

  • Burns, bruising, pressure marks, abrasions or broken bones may be signs of abuse or maltreatment.
  • Poor hygiene or a sudden weight loss is a sign of neglect.
  • A sudden change in the person's financial situation could be a sign of exploitation.
  • Arguments between the nursing home resident and their caregiver.
  • An unexplained withdrawal from social interaction or depression may be signs of emotional abuse.

The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 established patient rights for nursing home residents, including the right to be fully informed and make independent choices, the right to privacy and confidentially, the right to dignity, respect and freedom, the right to security of possession and the right to complain without fear of reprisals.

If a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact a personal injury attorney for valuable advice regarding your legal options. We will investigate the situation and take whatever legal steps are necessary to end the abuse. Our firm will also pursue compensation for damages, including medical treatment, pain, suffering and emotional distress.

National legislation exists that defines and protects the rights of nursing home residents. These laws were enacted to prevent the abuse of seniors, such as physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse. When an elder's rights have been violated at a nursing home, you can take action to prevent further maltreatment and hold the parties responsible for the abuse accountable for their misdeeds. The Tampa Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at our firm can explain the statutes pertaining to nursing home abuse, and be counted on for tough advocacy when seeking injury compensation.

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