Today, more than ever, nursing home abuse has become a prevalent concern for individuals in the US with the numbers of elderly in the US population on the rise. Because of the aging Baby Boomer generation and the increase in life expectancy today, more and more of our population are elderly. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 1.5 million people currently reside in nursing homes in the US.
The rise in number of nursing home residents has also precipitated a rise in cases of nursing home abuse. Shortages on adequately trained staff also contribute to the increase we are seeing in these cases. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that 10% of nursing home residents in the US have suffered some form of elder abuse in the prior year. The NCEA also suggests that even more cases go unreported each year, and this is largely due to the fact that residents typically feel intimidated or pressured into keeping silent and family and loved ones don't often know what signs to look for to spot abuse when it's happening.
That's why it's vitally important to know what signs to look for when you have a loved one under the care of a nursing home facility. The Administration on Aging (AOA) and the National Institute on Aging suggest these warning signs be top of mind when observing a nursing home resident and their surroundings to spot abuse.
- Sudden injuries or physical conditions not adequately explained (i.e. fractures or broken bones, sprained joints, bruising or burns, and the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease absent an adequate explanation)
- A sudden behavioral withdrawal from typical activities
- Isolation or confinement by a caregiver, such as restricted access to the resident imposed by the caregiver, and verbally aggressive interactions between the caregiver and the resident and a caregiver that is generally disrespectful and verbally abusive toward the resident
Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse
- The appearance of an unexplained sexually transmitted disease, and trauma (i. e. bruising or swelling around the genitals)
Warning Signs of Neglect or Abandonment
- Signs that your loved one is not receiving their medication
- General deterioration in the resident's personal hygiene
- Weight loss/lack of food
- General deterioration of living conditions (dirty, soiled clothing or bedding, lack of basic necessities like heat, electricity and water, etc.)
- Bedsores or ulcers
Warning Signs of Financial Exploitation
- Unpaid monthly bills, or inability to pay bills
- Giving excessive and unexpected gifts, particularly to non-family members
- Giving away control of financial affairs to a caregiver, and an inability by the resident to explain personal financial transactions
Warning Signs of Healthcare Fraud
- Unexpected or apparently unnecessary medical treatment or equipment
- Excessive diagnostic testing
- Caregivers' inability to adequately explain the need for particular equipment or treatment, and billing to insurers or medical providers for health care services that were never provided.
It is very important to note that these recommendations are just the tipping point for ferreting out nursing home abuse as manifestations of abuse can take on a wide array of things. It's important to be watchful of any real change in behavior on the part of both the resident and the caregiver when a loved one is under the care of a nursing home. Should you find there is cause for alarm, it is important that you first alert law enforcement so that proper intervention can stop the abuse in question. It is also important to alert your local Adult Protective Services Agency, so that the facility can be investigated and further abuse of residents can be halted.
Finally, it's important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer like those at Panio Law Offices. We are able to help ensure the abuse is properly reported to the appropriate state agency, and follow up on any reports made to local law enforcement. We can help file a nursing home abuse claim on behalf of the resident to ensure that compensation is made for adequate medical treatment and care to address the abuse in question, pain and suffering and all damages associated with the abuse they have suffered.
We understand the position of vulnerability nursing home residents find themselves in and we will fight hard to ensure that those responsible for their pain, suffering and injuries pay. We fight for our clients to recover the highest awards to which they are entitled. And there is no charge for our services unless we recover damages.
If you have a question about a nursing home abuse case or if you would like legal assistance in filing a nursing home abuse personal injury claim, please call (312) 313-0305. We can help.