According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 643,000 assault cases reported in the United States between 2002 and 2016 involved the elderly. There were also more than 19,000 homicides involving older adults during this time.
Unfortunately, these statistics show that elderly and nursing home abuse is common. Abuse of the elderly can come in many forms, ranging from physical and financial abuse to neglect and abandonment.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
There are six broad categories of nursing home abuse. Understanding each category and learning to recognize them can help family members intervene if they suspect that their relative is suffering some form of abuse.
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Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home
Physical abuse is perhaps the most common and easily identified type of nursing home abuse. Physical abuse involves inflicting bodily harm, though it can also mean physically restraining a resident against his or her will by, for example, locking the resident in a room.
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the following are common signs of physical abuse:
- Broken or fractured bones
Other telltale signs that someone is dealing with physical abuse include if they exhibit discomfort. For example, they may show an unwillingness to speak in front of or be alone with, a member of the nursing home staff. Unexplained hair or weight loss, sudden changes in mood, and unexplained trips to the hospital or the emergency room may also indicate physical abuse.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Emotional and psychological abuse can be much harder to recognize. This type of abuse can involve a member of the nursing home staff using hurtful taunts, yelling at, or threatening a resident, repeatedly ignoring a resident, or using humiliating or insulting language against a resident. Preventing the resident from seeing friends and relatives is also a form of emotional abuse.
Neglect or Abandonment of a Nursing Home Resident
Neglect is a common form of nursing home abuse that occurs when a caregiver deliberately does not respond to or fulfill a resident’s needs. It can include preventing the resident from accessing the basic necessities, such as:
- Food and water.
- Important medications.
- Warmth or cooling.
- Health care services.
Neglect can also involve failing to protect a resident from danger and threats to their health and wellbeing.
Meanwhile, abandonment occurs when relatives, loved ones, or nursing home staff leave residents to fend for themselves and do not take part in their care. This can cause a resident to become isolated, lonely, and depressed. (The reference to relatives and loved ones withdrawing from care would not be, “actionable,” i.e., an action that would support a legal claim, but if the nursing home staff does this, it most likely would be, depending upon the degree for injury.)
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Sexual abuse refers to when a caregiver forces a resident to watch, participate in, or perform sexual acts without the resident’s willful consent or desire. Common signs of sexual abuse include bleeding or bruising around the genitals, social and emotional withdrawal, torn or stained underwear, and panic or anxiety attacks.
Financial abuse is the illicit use or outright theft of a resident’s funds or assets. It can take many forms, such as:
- Forcing the resident to sign checks.
- Taking their disability payments.
- Overcharging, or charging them for free services.
- Using their bank cards or checkbooks without their permission.
It also includes making unsolicited changes to their will or life insurance policy or attempting to transfer the title of their property without their consent.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is experiencing abuse at the hands of nursing home staff, you should seek help immediately. In New York, you can contact 911 and request an investigation from a New York State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
You can also choose to file a lawsuit for personal injuries, damages, or general losses that your loved one suffered as a result of nursing home abuse. To support such a case, we must identify the party or parties you believe are responsible for the abuse and quantify the injuries or damages your loved one suffered.
The at-fault party may be a nursing home worker or administrator, or the nursing home itself. We will also need to gather evidence to prove your claim and begin the process of seeking damages.
Reach Out to a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Nursing Home Abuse Case
Nursing home abuse is common, but holding the abusive parties liable can help to prevent future abuse and allow you to seek justice for your loved one. For assistance with a personal injury case involving nursing home abuse, please contact Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. today. We will:
- Keep you updated on your case.
- Identify liable parties.
- Communicate with all parties for you.
- Gather evidence.
- Determine a value for your case.
- Fight for the compensation and justice you and your loved one under nursing home care need and deserve.
We are just a call away, so do not hesitate to reach out to our team for assistance. You can reach our firm at (516) 932-0400 for a free consultation.