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 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 spouse/parent/sibling 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. To help you, the Phoenix elder law lawyers at Morris Hall PLLC offer tips on how to spot the signs of nursing home abuse.
The Harsh Reality of Elder Abuse
The population of older Americans (defined as age 65 and older) in the United States has increased dramatically over the last several decades. Because of that growth, the demand for services geared toward seniors has also increased. The long-term care industry is scrambling to try and keep up with the demand for care. Unfortunately, that often means caregivers are hired without conducting proper backgrounds checks and administrators, who are already stretched thin, overlook complaints and potential issues. The result is that nursing home abuse and neglect occur far more frequently than most people realize. Consider the following facts and figures:
- 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.
- More than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90 percent report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients.
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
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 because they are ashamed or 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 focuses on avoiding 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 Phoenix Elder Law Lawyers
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 Phoenix elder law lawyers at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.