Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Deciding to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can be a heart-wrenching decision. Millions of families each year have to consider placing a parent or grandparent in a facility where their medical needs and day-to-day living needs can be met. We would like to think that the people with whom we entrust their care will provide the same standard of care we gave, but, sadly, that is often not the case. In fact, nursing home abuse and neglect is becoming an epidemic.
In a study conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives, nearly 1 in 3 U.S. nursing homes were cited for violations of federal standards that had potential to cause harm or that had caused actual harm to a resident during the two years 1999-2001. Studies reported by the National Center on Elder Abuse revealed that in 2008, 3.2 million Americans resided in nursing homes. The most recent major studies on incidence reported that 7.6%–10% of study participants experienced abuse in the prior year, and one study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities.
In 2000, studies conducted of more than 2,000 nursing home residents found that 44% of them had been abused, and 95% of those surveyed reported that they had been neglected or had seen others neglected. Perhaps even more compelling, those same studies found that more than 50% of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating nursing home patients.
The Effects of Abuse
Elders who experienced abuse, even modest abuse, had a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused. Research has also shown that victims of elder abuse have had significantly higher levels of psychological distress and lower perceived self-efficacy than older adults who have not been victimized. In addition, older adults who are victims of violence have additional health care problems than other older adults, including increased bone or joint problems, digestive problems, depression or anxiety, chronic pain, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
Signs of Abuse
While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, some indicators that there could be a problem are:
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
- Injuries from falls.
- Overmedication and oversedation.
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
- Sudden change in alertness and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
- Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses or those who should be in a position of trust are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
- Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.
It’s important to remain alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in personality, behavior, or physical condition, you should start to question what is going on.
Contact our Experienced Nursing Home Attorney
If you or someone you love has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact us immediately at (864) 757-0757 for a free consultation. Our Simpsonville lawyer makes home or hospital visits upon request.