According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States. Due to demographic trends and how difficult it can be to treat the elderly–especially those who have health issues that require professional care–admission rates in nursing homes have increased during the past few decades.
Unfortunately, nursing home and elder care facilities can expose vulnerable older adults to many forms of abuse.
Nursing homes are required–and expected–to provide their residents with the care, treatment, and consideration they need and deserve. But issues with understaffing, budget controls, a lack of training, and poor hiring practices can lead to abuse.
If you or a loved one is suffering abuse in a nursing home, or if you suspect someone you know is a victim of abuse, call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at (800) 959-1444 to learn how an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer might be able to provide legal recourse in your case.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse of the elderly can take many forms. The CDC defines elder abuse as intentional acts intended to harm or threaten the elderly. It is important to tell the difference between nursing home injuries that are caused by, for example, worker negligence, incompetence, or carelessness, and injuries or health issues that are the result of willful actions of someone with power over a nursing home resident who intends to harm the resident.
It is also important to understand that elder abuse is more than just physical or emotional abuse. Nursing home residents can also experience sexual or financial abuse, and the elderly can even suffer self-harm via self-neglect. Abuse victims are more likely to report financial abuse than neglect or sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. This is why loved ones and family members should learn about the different types of abuse and how to recognize their telltale signs.
Examples of nursing home abuse are given below.
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This involves the intentional use of physical force against a nursing home resident to cause the person pain. This type of abuse can lead to a wide range of injuries, from scratches and bruises to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, and death. Physical abuse can usually be identified by:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Bruises or contusions
- Burns, cuts, or scratches
- Dislocated joints
- Sprains or strained muscles
- Unexpected and unexplained hair or tooth loss
Physical abuse can be a sign that someone is enduring physical mistreatment. However, even if physical signs of abuse are not present, warning signs of physical abused are:
- Repetitive injuries of the same type
- The resident receiving care for injuries after a long delay
- Visible discomfort exhibited by the resident toward or in the presence of specific people
- Unconvincing explanations for visible injuries
- Social withdrawal or anxiety with no explanation
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This involves forced, unsolicited, or unwanted sexual actions of any type involving a nursing home resident. Residents who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disabilities may not be able to consent to performing sexual acts, and performing such acts with these individuals is sexual abuse.
Signs of nursing home sexual abuse are as follows:
- Bleeding from genitals or the anus
- Bruising around the genitals or the inner thighs
- The resident being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease
- Problems with walking or sitting
- Torn, bloodied, or stained undergarments
- Social and emotional withdrawal
- Attempted suicide
Nursing home staff, other residents, caretakers, friends, and even family members can sexually abuse elderly residents of a nursing home, and such abuse should not be taken lightly.
An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer might be able to help you identify different forms of abuse and gather evidence to help your abused loved one. Give the Ben Crump Law, PLLC, legal team a call today so that we can hear the specifics of your case and help you explore the legal options you might have.
Psychological and Emotional Abuse
Physical abuse involves the use of physical force to inflict pain. Psychological and emotional abuse involves the use of threats, actions, or words to cause mental anguish, worry, fear, or distress. It can take many forms, such as:
- Blocking access to important resources, such as food, water, clothing, soap, or other essentials
- Insulting and humiliating the resident
- Intimidating or isolating the resident
- Calling him or her names and threatening or terrorizing him or her
Signs that your elderly loved one may be the victim of emotional and/or psychological abuse are:
- The victim appears either depressed, withdrawn, disturbed, or scared.
- The person avoids eye contact or has new and unusual eating and/or sleeping patterns.
- The individual isolates from close friends and family members.
- The individual exhibits low self-esteem or experiences mood swings.
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This is when nursing home staff or other caregivers fail to protect a resident from harm or meet the individual’s needs, such that the resident ends up suffering an injury. Neglect is not accidental; it can be the result of incompetence or recklessness combined with a disregard for the resident’s well-being.
The issue might be considered neglect if you see the resident does not receive adequate care or attention in the following areas:
- Access to food, water, warmth, or clothing
- Poor hygiene or lack of protection from danger
- Limited access to medical care
Any illegal, unauthorized, or inappropriate use of the financial or physical assets of a nursing home resident is considered financial abuse. It is often perpetrated by individuals who the resident is close to and trusts.
You can identify financial abuse by the following warning signs:
- Unexplained expenses or lost belongings
- If you hear the resident discuss financial transactions or transfers but never see documentation regarding it
- Residents who are unaware of what their finances look like or where they are kept
- Unexplained ATM withdrawals or bank visits
- Eviction notices, unpaid bills, or new accounts being added to the resident’s payment methods
If a loved one complains of any type of abuse, or if you identify abuse using any of the signs above, you might be able to take legal action against the responsible parties. While you do not need to hire an attorney for your nursing home abuse case, hiring legal counsel can help you navigate the legal process when seeking justice for yourself or your loved one.
An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer can:
- Gather evidence to prove nursing home abuse.
- Estimate the value of your elderly loved one’s losses.
- Get the individual the help needed.
- Hold negligent parties responsible for their actions.
- File a personal injury lawsuit to recover your loved one’s damages.
If you are interested in exploring your legal options, contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC, at (800) 959-1444 for guidance. We work on a contingency, and we do not charge you upfront fees. We do not collect payment until we win a settlement for you. Call us today.