An estimated 2 million seniors over the age of 65 have been victims of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility. This abuse can occur in numerous ways, and its effects can be deadly. Even more shocking is that only 7 percent of all abuse cases are ever reported. This means that the number of abused seniors may be even higher.
Families are often devastated to discover that their loved ones have been abused or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Their first thought is to protect their loved ones from further abuse. Yet, it is equally important to report this abuse or neglect and hold the institution and caregiver accountable.
To do this, it is important to understand nursing home abuse and neglect, and the injuries loved ones may have suffered.
What is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a responsibility to care for their residents and provide them with a good quality of life. This includes tending to their daily needs, as well as providing adequate supervision. Receiving poor care, being verbally or physically abused, or not receiving adequate supervision are all examples of ways a resident could be harmed.
When a nursing home fails to safeguard the health and safety of their residents, they can be held accountable.
What are the Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
The National Center on Elder Abuse recognizes seven different types of nursing home abuse.
- Physical Abuse – seniors are often vulnerable to suffering from physical abuse due to their inability to defend themselves. Examples of physical abuse include shaking, slapping, burning, and improperly using restraints.
- Sexual Abuse – non-consensual sex with anyone is a crime. Elderly residents are often physically unable to protect themselves from sexual assault. As such, they can suffer from sodomy, rape, or other sexual abuses.
- Emotional Abuse – this is one of the most common forms of abuse and often underreported. Examples of emotional abuse include belittling, threats, yelling, or verbally assaulting a senior resident.
- Neglect – caregivers must properly care for residents. When they fail to do so, seniors can suffer serious harm. Examples of neglect include withholding food or water or letting seniors sit in urine or excrement. Isolating a senior resident is also a form of neglect.
- Abandonment – leaving a senior or elderly resident alone in public is known as abandonment. Seniors are at risk being out in the elements without their caregiver or guardian.
- Financial Abuse – financial abuse is more common than many people realize. Examples of financial abuse include stealing, convincing the elder to give you money, or sudden cash withdrawals.
- Self-Neglect – seniors who suffer from dementia may begin to harm themselves and neglect their own needs. This is known as self-neglect.
Nursing Home Injuries
The type of injury your loved one suffers depends largely on the type of abuse they have suffered. Some of the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect are easy to see, while others are less noticeable.
For example, a senior resident suffers from emotional abuse every day at the hands of his caregiver. He is yelled at and threatened multiple times a day. His family noticed that he seemed more agitated and withdrawn than usual, but they just thought it was a sign of aging or a side effect of his medications. That’s because the signs of emotional abuse are more difficult to notice.
Nursing home injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Restraint marks
- Broken bones
- Burn marks
- Mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety
- Unexplained STDs
- Genital lacerations or bruises
What Can Families Do When Their Loved Ones is Injured?
Just because a senior is injured in a nursing home does not mean they are a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. However, it is a cause for alarm. Family members should speak closely with their loved ones and ask them if they are being abused or mistreated in any way. Review medical records and speak to caregivers when an injury occurs. Also, have your loved one seen by a medical professional who may be able to diagnose or rule out abuse.
If you believe your loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney immediately. Your attorney can help you protect your loved one from further abuse, gather the evidence needed to prove abuse has occurred, and report the abuse to the proper authorities. Your attorney can also help you and your family file an injury lawsuit against the negligent institution or abusive caregiver to collect damages.
Allegations of nursing home abuse are not taken lightly. As such, you need an experienced attorney on your side through the legal process. An investigation into the incidents must be performed, and there may be a criminal investigation pending, as well as a civil investigation. This can complicate matters greatly. As such, it is important to have an attorney guide you through the difficult process and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.
Contact Our Virginia Nursing Home & Assisted Living Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love suffered an injury as a resident in a nursing home or assisted living facility, abuse or neglect may have occurred. When this happens, we can help.
At Bergeron Law, we know that a family’s main goal is to protect their loved one from further abuse. We can help you move your loved one from danger, while holding the negligent or abusive caregiver or institution accountable. Attorney Steve Bergeron is a powerful legal advocate for injured nursing home abuse victims and their families. Call Steve today at (703) 813-6460 or fill out the confidential contact form for a free initial consultation and review of your case.