Caring for an older loved one who is suffering from physical and/or mental deterioration can be exhausting. Despite this, most people hang on as long as possible in an attempt to avoid placing their loved one in a nursing home. Given the unsettling, and even downright terrifying, news reports that appear on an almost daily basis about nursing home abuse, it is hardly surprising that people will go to great lengths to avoid placing a loved one in a nursing home facility. Fortunately, there are nursing homes that provide competent, caring, and compassionate care to patients; however, it is in your loved one’s best interest for you to remain vigilant and on alert for signs of abuse or neglect. Once in a nursing home, your loved one needs an advocate. To help ensure that you know what to look for, an Albuquerque nursing home lawyer discusses the sign of abuse and what to do if you spot them.
Nursing Home Abuse Facts and Figures
The population of older Americans (defined as age 65 and older) in the United States has increased dramatically over the last several decades. As a consequence of that growth, the demand for services geared toward seniors has also increased. The long-term care industry, in particular, is scrambling to try and keep up with the demand for care. Unfortunately, that often means caregivers are hired without conducting proper backgrounds checks. Administrators, who are already stretched thin, overlook complaints and potential issues. The end result is that nursing home abuse and neglect occur far more frequently than most people realize. Consider the following facts and figures:
- Between 1999 and 2001, almost one-third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could cause harm, or that did harm elderly residents of those facilities;
- Nearly 10% of those homes had violations that posed a risk of serious injury or death, or that did cause deaths of elderly residents;
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients;
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities;
- According to Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs in 2003, there were more than 20 thousand complaints of exploitation, neglect and abuse coming from nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The most common type of abuse reported was physical abuse;
- The most recent studies indicate that 7-10 percent of the elderly suffered from at least one episode of abuse within the past year. Ten percent were cases unrelated to financial exploitation.
Signs of Abuse — and What to Do If You Spot Them
Victims of nursing home abuse frequently remain silent, sometimes because they cannot speak out, while other times it is because they are ashamed or they fear doing so. Either way, it is often up to loved ones to spot the signs of abuse, such as:
- Excessive, unexplained, or frequent bruising;
- Indications of restraints used on ankles and/or wrists;
- Weight loss;
- Anger or hostility;
- Depression or mood swings;
- Urinary tract infection (sexual abuse of seniors does happen);
- Missing medication or not taking medication as prescribed;
- Personal items missing.
If you notice any of these signs, try and talk to your loved one if possible. Sit down with the facility administrator as well and share your concerns. Sometimes this is very productive and leads to an investigation while in other facilities the administration starts “circling the wagons” in an effort to avoid liability. Filing a report with the appropriate law enforcement agency may also be necessary given that elder abuse can be a criminal offense. Finally, consult with an experienced elder law attorney immediately. Nursing home abuse can form the basis for a civil lawsuit against the facility for negligence. Furthermore, it may be necessary for you to petition for guardianship over your loved one if the need to move him/her arises.
Contact Albuquerque Nursing Home Lawyer
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about nursing home abuse, contact the experienced nursing home attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.