When You Should Get a Lawyer for Nursing Home Abuse
The decision to put your relative in a nursing home is never easy. It can be one of the most difficult and traumatic decisions you and your family have to make.
You probably spent a lot of time agonizing over which home to choose for your loved one.
Your concern about choosing the right nursing home is certainly justified. For nursing home residents, the quality of life is highly impacted by the amount of personal attention and care they receive from the staff.
Be Aware Of Potential Abuse
While many nursing homes do an excellent job of taking care of their residents, sometimes our worst nightmare happens. We suspect our loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse.
Although their living conditions are unique, nursing home residents have the same rights as any other citizen. They have the right to be treated with respect and to be free from neglect and abuse. They also have the right to receive proper medical care, proper privacy, and more.
If you believe these rights are being abused or neglected, it’s time to hire a lawyer.
Lawyers for nursing home abuse can help investigate and put an end to this negligent behavior.
Let’s take a look at exactly when you should hire lawyers for nursing home abuse.
Understanding the Types of Abuse
The first thing you need to understand is that abuse isn’t limited to physical violence or neglect.
Nursing home abuse can occur in a variety of ways. It may be physical, emotional and psychological, or sexual. It may also take the form of financial exploitation, negligence, or abandonment.
According to the 2010 Census, more than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse. Even more troubling, that same study showed that 90% have reported that they or another resident have been neglected.
Being aware of the different types of abuse will help you understand when it’s appropriate to call a lawyer. If you believe your loved one is experiencing any sort of abuse, lawyers for nursing home abuse should be contacted immediately.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these forms of abuse to give you a better understanding:
This type of abuse takes place when an employee of a nursing home does something to cause emotional suffering to a resident.
Some examples of this include:
- Ignoring the elderly resident
- Intentional isolation from activities
- Blaming or scapegoating
- Habitually demeaning the elderly resident
- Menacing/threatening the elder
Emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse can be a little more difficult to pinpoint. This is because there is often no physical evidence of abuse. Looking out for these signs will help you determine if your loved one is suffering from this type of abuse:
- Low self-esteem
- Avoiding eye contact
- Sudden mood swings
- Avoiding social interactions
- Seems more withdrawn or depressed
- Changes in sleeping/eating patterns
Physical abuse takes place when the elder is physically harmed, threatened with physical harm, or isn’t receiving basic essentials.
Some common examples of physical abuse in nursing homes are:
- Inappropriate use of restraint
- Hitting, shoving, slapping or pushing
- Threatening to use a weapon
- Burning or biting
Warning signs of physical abuse often include:
- Dislocated joints
- Sprains, fractures, or bruises
- Multi-colored bruises encircling the wrist area
- Traumatic tooth or hair loss
- A history of hospitalizations for similar injuries
- Unexplained withdrawal from social activities
- Varied stories detailing how the injury occurred
Sexual abuse occurs when there is unwanted sexual contact between the resident and the elder.
Common warning signs of sexual abuse include:
- Pelvic injuries
- Sudden difficulty sitting or walking
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Bruises near the inner thigh or genital area
- Bloody, stained or torn undergarments
- Panic attacks
- Suicide attempts
Financial exploitation is also referred to as material exploitation and financial abuse. This type of abuse involves illegal or improperly using the elder resident’s funds, assets, or property.
In many instances, elder residents are not even aware that financial abuse is going on. Some examples of financial exploitation are:
- Forging a signature of a resident
- Cashing a resident’s check without permission
- Stealing or misusing resident’s money or possessions
- Coercing the resident to sign a document, such as will
According to a study conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, financial exploitation costs elderly victims $2.6 billion each year.
Negligence is similar to abuse in some ways, but there is one distinct difference.
Abuse implies that the employee is intentionally harming the resident. Neglect, on the other hand, occurs when harm is caused to the patient as a result of sub-standard care.
Types of nursing home neglect include:
Social or emotional neglect
The elderly person is repeatedly left alone, ignored, or snapped at by an overstressed employee.
Personal hygiene neglect
The elder doesn’t receive proper care with bathing, cleaning, brushing, or laundering clothes.
An employee fails to provide the elder with adequate attention concerning cuts, infections, bed sores, or diseases.
Basic needs neglect
The elder isn’t provided with a safe and clean environment or proper food or water.
Often times, high levels of neglect can lead to illness or even death.
Abandonment occurs when an employee who has been put in charge of taking care of a resident abandons them.
Similar to neglect, abandonment is not always done with the intent of harming the resident. However, it too can lead to serious injury or death.
Examples of abandonment include failing to give prescribed medications, failing to help a patient turn over in bed, or the failure to respond to patient’s bad call. They can also include leaving a patient who has slipped or fallen and a failure to regularly check on the patient.
Lawyers for Nursing Home Abuse: Wrap Up
If your loved one is experiencing any form of abuse mentioned above, legal action should be taken.
However, it is important to only select lawyers for nursing home abuse who have experience handling these types of cases.
Your lawyer should provide a free consultation to go over the case and help you decide the best way to continue. Also, they shouldn’t charge a fee for their services unless your case is settled or won.
If you believe you or a family member is a victim of nursing home abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
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