Are you concerned that your loved one may be suffering from nursing home abuse? You should be-1 in 6 nursing home residents may be a victim of neglect or abuse, but only a third of elderly victims will report the mistreatment. This means you need to know how to spot any signs of nursing home abuse as quickly as possible.
The injury attorneys at Thompson Law Firm in Phoenix have significant experience in helping clients who have experienced nursing home abuse. Our offices are conveniently located in Chandler, Peoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in-person or over the phone or video call. You can contact us for a free consultation, or read on to find out more.
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We trust nursing home facilities with our loved ones for this reason: To provide quality care with patience and humanity for families unable to care for their elderly loved ones on their own.
Sadly, nursing homes don’t always honor this commitment, and it’s essential for you to stay educated on what nursing home abuse looks like and know when and how to reach out for help. Keep reading to learn how to recognize different types of nursing home abuse so that you can make sure your loved ones are safe and happy.
How Does Nursing Home Abuse Happen?
Elderly patients are vulnerable due to the health complications that come with aging, and often feel like a burden to their families. This means they may not speak up about abuse when they should. 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 When You Don’t Know Abuse is Occurring?
When placing a loved one in a nursing home you’d never expect anyone to harm them physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially. The first step in stopping abuse is to know that it is happening in the first place. It can be tricky to identify nursing home abuse. You may expect that if harm was being done to your elderly loved one, they would tell you about
it, but this may not be the case. Knowing the signs will give you a better chance of recognizing and putting an end to nursing home abuse or neglect.
Physical Signs of Abuse
Physical harm is usually easier to see than emotional abuse and more common than we would like to think. Unfortunately, it takes place every day and if you detect any signs or have a suspicion they may be in danger, don’t hesitate to take action to protect them. Here are some signs of physical abuse to watch out for:
• Unexplained bruising or other wounds
• Abrasions around wrists or ankles
• 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, act now by calling us for a free consultation.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Elderly psychological abuse, like any other mental abuse, is harder to catch than physical abuse. You might notice something is not quite right, but since it’s not something you can see, like a bruise or improper hygiene, you may find yourself
quick to let it go. Your loved one may also explain it away and insist they are fine out of shame or embarrassment.
Emotional abuse can be verbal, like when staff yell, insult, or snap at your loved one. It can also be non-verbal, like a staff member humiliating or intimidating a resident by ignoring their needs. Here are some signs of emotional nursing home abuse that should be taken seriously:
• Isolation and withdrawl from communication and interaction
• Tense relationship with nursing home staff
• Unusual changes in behavior
• Low self-esteem
• Frequent crying
• Sudden onset of anxiety and fear
• Lack of eye contact
• Anger or resentment
If you see any of these changes in your loved one’s behavior, ask your loved one questions and ask the nursing home staff questions too. If you aren’t getting straightforward answers, and the staff don’t share your concern, then it’s time to protect your loved one by learning what action you can take.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse makes up an estimated 8% of all 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 that 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 resident-to-resident assault are similar to those above, but you should also look out for:
• Changes in your loved one’s behavior 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 right to:
• Necessary care (medical, physical, psychological, and social)
• 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. This includes:
• Nurse Practitioners
• Residents or interns
• Anyone who is responsible for the resident’s care
Your loved one may not always be able to protect themselves and exercise their rights. However, you can protect them. 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.
If your loved one has suffered, it means you have suffered too. The realization your loved one has been harmed at the hands of trusted healthcare providers can make you feel guilty, even though it was never your intention.
Thompson Law Firm has helped countless victims collect the damages they are rightfully entitled to with empathy and
compassion. We can help you hold the nursing home liable for abuse and neglect when your loved one has been harmed. Contact us today to learn more.
Signs of Abuse FAQs
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 from nursing home 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.
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