Family members send their elderly loved ones to a nursing home for various reasons. It could be because they are unavailable to care for them, don’t live nearby, need a break, or simply because the elderly can’t properly look after themselves and require professional care. For the most part, families take this decision with a heavy heart to prioritize their loved one’s future care and comfort.
Making a decision as difficult as this, they hope their loved ones will be healthy and happy. Additionally, the nursing home staff must fully care for and attend to their needs. However, nursing homes are often not the oasis family members want them to be – abuse is commonplace in such institutions.
According to statistics, about 3 million people live in nursing homes in the U.S, with 95% of nursing home residents reporting that they have witnessed elder abuse. Furthermore, one out of three senior residents at a nursing home report abuse, and victims have a 300% higher risk of death.
What Possible Actions Can We Take Against Abuse?
Residents at nursing homes cannot care for their own needs and are at a chance of getting abused and neglected by the very people supposed to care for them. Spotting the signs of abuse and reporting abuse in nursing homes can free seniors from their miserable situation.
Reporting the abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS) can help the victim come forward and pursue legal compensation. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if a nursing home resident is in immediate danger.
How Do I Know the Elderly Is Facing Abuse?
This article will cover the different types of abuse senior citizens can face at a nursing home. Read on to learn more about these common abuses that take place in facility centers, so you know exactly when to intervene.
Abandonment occurs when the primary caretakers give the cold shoulder to the needs of the elderly resident. Elders who rely on professional care for even their most basic needs are left alone to fend for themselves. Nursing homes may abandon a resident out of spite or desire to harm them. Such abuse can have a devastating effect on the mental and physical health of the victim. However, many cases of such abuse go unreported. Victims are bullied and isolated and often wander the streets after being abandoned.
2. Emotional Abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse includes verbally threatening or insulting the victim. It occurs when someone humiliates and criticizes a resident and controls them against their will. It is the most prevalent abuse occurring in assisted-living facilities. The World Health Organization reports that over 32% of staff at nursing homes testified to emotionally abusing residents at some point in their career. Examples of abuse include humiliating, criticizing, shaming, threatening a resident, and controlling their daily activities against their will. Victims who have experienced emotional abuse exhibit negative behavioral changes that put them at risk of developing long-term mental problems like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
3. Financial Abuse
Caretakers at an assisted living facility can take advantage of patients and manipulate them into handing over their money or even stealing from them. They can exploit the access to a resident’s financial matters and even jeopardize their financial status. It includes abusing the power of attorney to make changes to the resident’s will, theft of credit card and other valuables, prohibiting the resident from accessing their bank account, and stealing their bank statements.
Financial exploitation can be horrifying for residents because it can result in them losing their lifelong savings, which they use to pay for their long-term care.
Neglecting a resident’s basic needs occurs inadvertently and is often the result of understaffed nursing facilities. When the resident’s needs such as food, clothing, and cleaning go unmet, it can lead to various medical issues such as skin infections, sores, starvation, and dehydration.
When nursing home staff members fail to provide adequate medical care, it is considered neglect. Nursing home neglect is not the same as nursing home abuse. Nursing home neglect results from carelessness or indifference on the side of nursing home employees, whereas abuse is an intentional act intended to injure someone. Examples of nursing home neglect include medication errors, dehydration, malnutrition, issues with personal hygiene, ignoring the resident’s cry for help, leaving them unattended for extended periods, and failing to tend to their injuries/illness.
5. Physical Abuse
When a resident suffers physical injury or injuries at a nursing home, this is considered physical abuse. Significant signs of physical abuse include broken bones, bruising, and bleeding. Physical abuse can occur to any resident, but individuals suffering from cognitive problems are more vulnerable.
Physical elder abuse can result in serious injuries or death if not treated properly. If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, financial assistance may be available to cover medical costs and mental distress.
Self-neglect happens when the elderly cannot care for themselves, resulting in serious health problems. Self-neglect is likely to occur when older people, who cannot care for themselves, live alone. However, staff members can face liability if a senior shows neglect while residing in a nursing home.
7. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual attention, contact, or exploitation. It can lead to physical harm such as bruising, scrapes, or STDs, as well as mental distress in victims. Sexual elder abuse occurs when people sexually abuse elderly residents who can’t express their will or are mentally impaired. Unfortunately, this type of abuse often targets disabled and cognitively compromised elders.
Residents of nursing homes have legal rights and deserve the finest care available. Unfortunately, far too many elderly in nursing homes experience physical violence, neglect, and other types of abuse. All sorts of maltreatment at nursing homes can badly affect more senior residents – leaving psychological shadows of the abuse in their minds.
Residents, family, and friends must be aware of the many forms of abuse and the warning indicators. Taking action against all sorts of nursing home abuse as soon as possible helps to prevent long-term harm.
Nursing home abuse in any form is unacceptable. Report the abuse immediately by calling the local police, adult protective services, and other necessary agencies to help your loved ones pursue justice and compensation.