We trust nursing homes to provide our loved ones with care and a healthy environment, so they can maintain their health and enjoy their lives. When a nursing home has an issue that results in harming your loved one, you may not know how to proceed. But there is help out there. Seek legal aid with a Jackson nursing home abuse lawyer from Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC. We’ll do everything we can to get your loved one the justice they deserve.
While it’s difficult to realize that this kind of abuse does happen, it’s important to remember that you always have options to help your loved one. To get a clearer idea of nursing home abuse, it’s important to know a bit more about how common it is and who is more likely to suffer from it.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics and Risks
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) has researched the issue of nursing home abuse. They found the following facts:
- A 2018 study on the prevalence of abuse in elder care facilities showed psychological abuse to be the most common abuse type (33.4%), followed by physical abuse (14.1%), financial exploitation (13.8%), neglect (11.6%), and sexual abuse (1.9%).
- There’s a greater risk of elder abuse when there isn’t enough social support for seniors.
- Dementia or memory loss increases the risk of mistreatment. Approximately one in two seniors with cognitive issues will suffer from abuse.
- While authorities receive some reports of abuse, many cases may not reach them. For every reported case there are 24 that go unreported.
It’s difficult to get an accurate idea of the prevalence of nursing home abuse because there are so many factors that can prevent the reporting process. Residents may be too fearful or are unable to come forward and communicate what’s happening.
Defining Abuse and Its Types
The Mississippi State Department of Health defines abuse as the willful infliction of physical pain, intimidation, injury, or mental anguish on a long-term care resident. Abuse includes willfully depriving the resident of goods or services that they need to maintain their health and wellbeing. Residents are protected from exploitation, which is when someone uses the resident to gain profit or advantage.
- Physical Abuse. When caregivers handle a resident too roughly or hit, slap, pinch, kick, or use corporal punishment, they’re committing physical abuse.
- Psychological Abuse. Residents can also suffer from psychological abuse, which is when staff belittle, humiliate, or threaten to punish or deprive residents of necessities or goods.
- Involuntary Seclusion. Seniors thrive when they’re around their peers and they have opportunities to socialize and make friends. Involuntary seclusion is a form of abuse where the resident is kept away from other residents or kept in their room against their will.
- Sexual Abuse. Sexual harassment, coercion, and assault are all forms of sexual abuse.
- Verbal Abuse. When staff threatens or intentionally terrifies a resident, or speaks negatively to or about a resident, they’re committing abuse. Frightening residents can include saying that they won’t be able to see their family again. It doesn’t matter if the resident hears the comments, how old they are, or if they can’t fully comprehend what’s being said—staff are supposed to be respectful to all of their residents. Whether the comments are spoken, written, or gestured, they count as forms of verbal abuse.
- Mental Abuse. Similar to psychological abuse, mental abuse includes humiliating the resident, harassing them, or threatening to keep them away from others.
- Financial Abuse. Staff may take advantage of a resident with memory issues and steal money from them.
- Resident-to-Resident Abuse. The staff isn’t always the party directly abusing residents. Other residents can be the ones perpetrating the abuse. However, the nursing home is still responsible for keeping their residents safe, even if that includes being kept safe from other residents.
It’s inexcusable for any type of abuse to happen in a nursing home. They are supposed to provide care for your loved one. If you suspect your loved one isn’t getting the care they need or is being neglected, get in touch with our nursing home abuse lawyers in Jackson as soon as possible.
What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse?
If you’re concerned about nursing home neglect and abuse, there are a few signs you can look out for when you visit your loved one.
- Wounds. Bruises, welts, cuts, or even more serious injuries like sprains or broken bones are signs of physical abuse. You may also look out for head injuries, poor dental health, and bed sores. While an occasional bump or bruise may occur, consistent injuries are not normal or acceptable.
- Distress. If your loved one seems frightened or unusually distressed, they may be a victim of elder abuse. Certain forms of abuse may also lead to developing depression or anxiety.
- Acting Withdrawn. Your loved one’s demeanor may completely change. If they seem uncharacteristically quiet or unfocused, this could be evidence of overmedication. This abuse is when staff use medication in a way that makes it easier to control patients.
- Financial Losses. You may notice questionable changes in your loved one’s finances that could be because someone is taking advantage of them at the nursing home.
But elder abuse isn’t always obvious. Your loved one may not be able to communicate what’s happening or have evidence from them to know something is wrong. You can, however, observe and speak to the people around you as well. If you notice that your loved one’s hygiene isn’t being maintained or the home itself isn’t clean, these may indicate a neglectful environment. A worrisome indicator to look for is if the staff doesn’t seem to want to leave you alone to speak with your loved one privately. You can always speak with other residents and families and ask them their opinion of the home.
What Contributes to Nursing Home Abuse?
You may be wondering how nursing home abuse can happen in the first place. There are several factors that can make a nursing home more likely to perpetuate abuse.
- Understaffing. To save money, nursing homes may not have as many people working as they should. This means that residents may not get the care and attention they need on a regular basis. In these situations, residents’ hygiene may be neglected, or they may try to get up and walk to do something themselves and fall, which can be fatal for seniors.
- Overworked Staff. When there aren’t enough people on staff, it adds more pressure to those who are working there. Fatigue or exhaustion are more likely to affect the staff and they may make mistakes. This still isn’t an excuse for abuse to occur.
- Poor Hiring. Nursing homes may not have strict policies or background checks when they hire. They may not know if the person they hire is a poor candidate for this kind of job.
If the nursing home you chose for your loved one doesn’t have dependable staff, it may end up harming your loved one. But you can get help.
A Jackson Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help Your Loved One
The lawyers at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC have experience in nursing home abuse cases and are ready to stand up for your loved one’s rights. We believe that every senior citizen has a right to be treated with respect and dignity, and we will hold nursing homes accountable when they fail to do this.
You can call for a free consultation of your case and begin to help your loved one live the life they deserve.