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1 in 6 nursing home residents could be a victim of neglect and abuse, but only one in three elderly victims will report the mistreatment. This makes it imperative for friends and family members to spot any signs of abuse as quickly as possible.

What is the number one reason we trust nursing home facilities with our loved ones?

To provide quality care with patience and humanity for families unable to care for their elderly loved ones on their own.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case, and it’s essential we stay educated on what nursing home abuse looks like and know when to reach out for help.

How does nursing home abuse happen?

Elderly patients are more vulnerable given their additional health complications and often feel like a bother to their families.

As a loving family member, show them they are no burden by being an advocate for their safety and their rights as nursing home residents.

What can you do as a loved one when you don’t know abuse is occurring?

It’s challenging to identify elderly abuse. Knowing the signs will give you a greater chance of recognizing and stopping any neglect or abuse.

Recognizing abuse happening to your loved one is the first step towards action. The action to make it stop.

Physical signs of abuse

Physical harm is normally more clear than emotional abuse and more common than we would like to think. When placing a loved one in a nursing home it’s never a thought anyone would harm them physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially.

It’s also not a thought our loved one might not tell us about any abuse that’s going on.

Unfortunately, it takes place every day and if you detect any signs or have any uncertainty; you have the right to take action and protect them. Here are some signs of physical abuse to watch out for:

  • Unexplained Bruising or other injuries
  • Malnutrition
  • Abrasions around wrists or ankles
  • Bedsores
  • Frequent infections
  • Hygiene issues
  • Bone Fractures or breaks
  • Burn marks
  • Medication mismanagement

No type of abuse is acceptable in a nursing home where you’ve placed your loved one for proper care. If the staff cannot explain any of the signs above, it may be time to take action.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Think of elderly psychological abuse like any other mental abuse, it’s harder to catch.

You might notice something is not quite right, but since it’s not concrete like a bruise or improper hygiene, you may find yourself quick to write it off.

Your loved one may be quick to explain it away out of shame or embarrassment.

Emotional abuse can be both verbal and non-verbal. Example: Nursing home staff may humiliate or intimidate a resident, often ignoring their needs. It’s a difficult truth to endure when you were simply trying to do the best for your loved one and have them taken care of. Below are signs of emotional elderly abuse that should be taken seriously.

  • Isolation and withdraw
  • Tense Relationship with nursing home staff
  • Depression
  • Unusual change in behavior
  • Low self-esteem
  • Frequent Crying
  • Sudden onset of anxiety and fear
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Anger or resentment

Ask your loved one questions and ask the nursing home staff questions too. If you aren’t getting straightforward answers, then it’s time and it’s necessary to look out for your loved one and stand up for their rights.

Signs of sexual abuse

Sexual abuse makes up an estimate 8% of abuse cases in the elderly, including those living in nursing homes. Some of the most common signs of sexual abuse are:

  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Torn or bloody clothes
  • Pain when sitting down
  • Fear of a specific person
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

You can find out more by reading our guide on sexual abuse in nursing homes.

Signs of resident assault

Sadly, one of the most common types of abuse in nursing homes is caused by other residents at the home.

This can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature and is sometimes caused by residents having diminished mental capacity due to conditions like Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

The signs of reside to resident assault are similar to those above, but you should also look out for:

  • Changes in your loved one’s behaviour around other residents
  • Your loved one complaining about other residents or not wanting to talk about them

You can find out more by reading our guide on nursing home resident on resident assaults.

What basic rights do nursing home residents have? 

According to the NHRA, nursing home residents have certain basic rights, including the rights to:

  • Necessary care (medical, physical, psychological, and social)
  • Privacy
  • Security of possessions
  • Welcome visitors or refuse visitors
  • Remain in the facility until transfer or discharge
  • Take part in resident and family groups
  • Be treated with dignity
  • Exercise self-determination (freedom to make their own choices)
  • Communicate freely
  • Participate in the review of their care plans
  • Be fully informed in advance about changes in care, treatment, or status in the facility
  • Voice grievances without retaliation or discrimination
  • Choose a physician
  • Refuse medication or other treatments
  • Freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
  • Freedom from physical restraints

What else can nursing homes be liable for?

  • Not responding to complaints
  • Inadequate training of staff
  • Failure to stop any resident abuse
  • Not thoroughly investigating staff before hire

In Arizona, health care providers and other caregivers are legally required to report any abuse or neglect. Those required are:

  • Doctors
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Residents or interns
  • Psychologists
  • Dentists
  • Anyone who is responsible for the residents care

Your loved one may not always have the ability to protect themselves and exercise their rights. However, you can.

Your loved one deserves to be treated with dignity and you both deserve to be compensated for the damages caused by emotional and physical abuse in what was supposed to be a safe place.

Abuse doesn’t need to be proven to contact a lawyer or make a report.

That’s where we come in and gather the information needed to help your loved one and help you make sure they are safe and cared for.

What next?

If your loved one has suffered, it means you have suffered too. The realization your loved one has been suffering at the hands of trusted healthcare providers can cause guilt, even though it was never the intention.

Thompson Law Firm has helped countless victims collect the damages they are rightfully entitled to with empathy and compassion.

You can hold the nursing home liable for neglect when neglect is present and we can help you.

Signs of abuse frequently asked questions

Is being refused visitation rights a cause for concern?

It can be. Being able to welcome visitors is a basic right of all nursing home residents, so if you’re being refused access to see your loved one you should be given a clear and detailed explanation why.

If you’re not satisfied with their explanation speak to a member of the Thompson Law legal team.

Are nursing homes liable for abuse?

Yes, nursing homes in Arizona and across the US have a legal obligation to protect the safety of their residents.

If a resident has suffered abuse, or neglect that should have been prevented the nursing home is responsible for this.

How can a lawyer help if I suspect abuse?

If you suspect your loved one might have suffered abuse speaking to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help in several ways.

They can offer support and guidance based on your individual circumstances, ranging from how best to raise the issue with the nursing home through to taking legal action and involving the authorities directly in more serious cases.

If you’re unsure what steps to take, speak to a member of the Thompson Law legal team today for a free consultation.

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Our experienced attorneys offer comprehensive guidance on all personal injury matters by phone or video conference call.

Our team of lawyers work closely with their injury clients across Arizona, communicating clearly whilst offering reassurance and empathy through an often very difficult and emotional process. During the free consultation, our lawyers will discuss your concerns before creating a comprehensive plan for you, while also assessing the strength of your claim.

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