According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 1.8 million individuals reside permanently in nursing homes in the US. And these numbers are expected to increase over the next decade due in part to the aging of the baby boomers. However, as the number of seniors residing in nursing homes increases, the risk of abuse and neglect is also likely to follow. If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of abuse, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.
It is estimated that about 10-12% of all nursing home residents suffer from some type of abuse/neglect each year and these numbers are gross underestimates because countless cases never come to light. For the family of the individual who is in a nursing home, here are some signs and symptoms that may be indicative of abuse or neglect:
- Physical abuse: This may be obvious in some cases. The resident may have unexplained injuries like bruises, a broken arm or leg, a new limp or patches of hair pulled out. In most cases, physical abuse is sudden, and the nursing staff cannot offer an explanation or offer unrealistic scenarios. It is up to the family members to be vigilant and to seek an explanation from the resident as well the staff members as to how those injuries occurred. This can help identify abuse early on and can enable the nursing home management to take measures; if not, the family can take legal action as well as move their loved one to a safer location.
- Emotional abuse: This may present with depression, crying, anxiety, fear, becoming isolated, being less talkative than usual, afraid to sleep and scared of being alone. These changes may be more apparent in front of the abuser. Frequently, the resident may ask the family to take them away from the nursing home or may not let go when the family member wants to leave. These are all signs that something might be wrong, and even if it’s not abuse, it is worth investigating just to make sure.
- Sexual abuse: This may involve both genders and is often committed by nursing staff in charge of the resident. The sexual abuse may be discreet and sometimes only comes to light if there is a hidden camera. And in some cases, the individual may have acquired a sexually transmitted disease or trauma to the genitals, which is another possible sign that something is not right. Once again, family members and friends need to be vigilant and need to ensure that any sign of abuse is not ignored.
- Neglect or abandonment: This is also a very common form of abuse in nursing homes. The family may note that the resident is dirty, has been wearing the same clothes for days or even weeks, or that an adult brief has not been changed, and the individual may be smelling of urine or feces. The bed may be unkempt, or the room may be very dirty. Even when the resident calls the staff, they rarely respond to the bell or voice commands. In some cases, old food may be on the table for days. And even more distressing is that some residents who are frail and weak may not have been fed or days.
- Financial exploitation: Financial exploitation is also common in nursing homes. Someone may be stealing money from the resident, may have used their credit card, checkbook or even the ATM to make cash withdrawals. Often this type of fraud comes to light when the bank statements are analyzed.
- Healthcare fraud: In some cases, the nursing home may have committed healthcare fraud by billing for services and items that the resident was never provided for. For example, the nursing home may have billed for rehabilitation consult or a wheelchair but never provided the services or the item to the resident.
If you suspect that your loved one in a nursing home has suffered abuse or neglect, the best advice is to speak to a nursing home abuse lawyer. Nursing home abuse attorneys have the ways and means to investigate these claims and ensure that your loved one is protected and is also compensated for any damage or injury. Call our nursing home abuse lawyer at Burnetti, P.A.. They will listen to your concerns and will further investigate to get to the bottom of things. Our nursing home abuse attorneys can also gain access to patient records as well as find a medical expert who can evaluate the patient and determine if neglect or abuse has occurred. Call us today, and our nursing home abuse lawyer will make sure your loved one is well-protected.