Nursing Home Neglect Or Abuse: What Can Be Done?

November 16, 2021

It’s no secret that the world of nursing homes is not always a place of comfort and care. Too many times, elderly individuals are neglected or abused by the people who are supposed to be looking after them. The shocking thing is how often it goes unnoticed. Research has shown that over 1 in 10 residents reported some form of abuse at their current facility, but only 1 in 300 cases was ever confirmed as true instances of abuse. With numbers like these, there can be no doubt that something needs to change for the sake of our elders and their dignity. This article will explore what this neglect looks like and what you can do if you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse is happening.

1. What Is Neglect Or Abuse In A Nursing Home?

There are several ways that a person can be neglected or abused in a nursing home, but there are some commonalities. Some examples of abuse include hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, and taking advantage of the patient sexually. Less obvious forms of abuse include withholding food and water, failing to bathe/change clothes/clean linens often enough, giving misinformation about a patient’s condition to family members, and putting a patient in unnecessary danger during their care. It can also include keeping indoors for too long and denying them healthy food options. Neglect is similar to abuse and it too can be physical, sexual, or emotional in nature. It refers to leaving a patient dirty, in pain, or hungry. It can also include failing to provide proper medication, emotional support, etc.

2. Warning Signs Of Neglect Or Abuse In A Nursing Home

As you may have guessed from the statistics shared above, it can be very difficult to tell when your loved one is being neglected or abused by their nursing home. Some of the warning signs include unexplained injuries, the nurse avoiding eye contact with you during your visit, and family members noticing major personality changes in their loved one (e.g., becoming aggressive or apathetic). It can be hard to notice these signs because elderly people can often have dementia or other disorders that make them less capable of expressing themselves clearly. You should keep in mind that if you notice signs like this and you notice that your loved one isn’t acting like usual, there may be something going on.

3. What Can You Do About It?

If you notice any signs of neglect or abuse, you should immediately contact the nursing home. Ask them what type of action they are taking to investigate your concerns. You can also contact any regulatory agencies that are relevant in your state (e.g., the Department of Public Health). If either of these options is unsatisfactory, you can consider contacting an attorney. If you do end up taking legal action, it is crucial that you get in touch with a law firm that is specialized in medical malpractice and nursing home abuses, like Thomas Law Offices. They will be able to guide you through the whole process and help you get a satisfactory outcome.

4. How To Prove Abuse Or Neglect?

Medical records, eyewitness testimony, and any other evidence that can help prove the abuse or neglect will be crucial in this process. Besides this, make sure you take photographs and/or videos of your loved one while you’re at the nursing home. This will be particularly helpful if they suffer from dementia and can’t properly explain what happened or even if something is wrong. You should consult an attorney before you take action because they understand how to gather all relevant information from your loved one and make sure it is taken into account in your case. If you do it on your own, contrary to what your lawyer told you, there is a possibility that you can lose or mishandle crucial evidence. Also, nursing homes can blame you for making false accusations, so you need to be sure before you act. You should always listen to your lawyer and it’s better that you let him/her handle all of the things that need to be done.

5. Why Do People Engage In Nursing Home Neglect Or Abuse?

Unfortunately, there are many reasons why someone would want to neglect or abuse their elderly patients at a nursing home. Some of the most common ones include drug/alcohol addiction, mental illness, lack of education on how to care for the elderly, and simply being overwhelmed by their job. There are also some people who have no real concern for their patients and view them as nothing more than life support systems that need to be sustained until they pass away. However, it is not always easy to determine a person’s motivations.

6. How Can I Avoid This In The Future?

It is important that you first do some research on the nursing home or assisted living facility before you send your loved one there. You can start by asking for recommendations from other people who have used the facility in the past. Next, visit the place and spend some time there with your loved ones to see if they will feel comfortable living in that environment. Also, visit without them to get a better idea of how their day-to-day life might look like if they were to go there. If you don’t get good vibes from the place, then it may be best to keep looking for other options until you find a suitable one. Also, read reviews on the Internet because they can sometimes give you an idea of how other people perceived the facility. If someone wrote a bad review, it may be worth looking into their claims to hopefully avoid similar problems in the future. 

Nursing home neglect and abuse is a very serious issue but, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon. Just make sure you know what to look for if you suspect your loved one might be being mistreated or neglected at their current facility. You can take action immediately by reporting the facility to your state health care services and also contacting an attorney. You can also take matters into your own hands by creating a digital dossier of all relevant information that might help you win the case in court if it gets to that point. We hope that your family members will be safe and well-cared for.

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