According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), of 2,000 nursing home residents who were interviewed, approximately 44 percent reported that they had been abused. Nearly all of them, a full 95 percent, said they had either been neglected or observed another patient being neglected.
Other statistics are alarming. More than half of the nursing staff in nursing homes admitted that they had either mistreated or neglected their elderly patients during the previous year. Approximately 50 percent of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) reported they had yelled at their patients and 17 percent actually confessed that they had “pushed, shoved or grabbed a nursing home resident.”
The NCEA reports that in addition to the disappointing statistics based on surveys and studies, it suspects that there is a vast number of undetected and unreported incidents of abuse and neglect. There is no doubt that more needs to be done to provide nursing home residents more protection from abuse and neglect. There are several different categories of elder abuse.
Nursing Home Neglect
There are so many ways nursing home residents are neglected, it is difficult to make any kind of comprehensive list. A few examples include;
- Ignoring the resident’s needs for assistance with personal hygiene. Residents are left lying in their own urine and feces for extended periods of time. In addition to the indignity of such neglect, residents develop bed sores from this treatment which often leads to infection that may be fatal.
- Meals are not provided when necessary and water pitchers are left dry. This results in malnutrition and dehydration.
- Clothing is not properly cleaned and cared for.
- There is no compliance with safety standards. Clutter is left in the hall for patients to trip over, residents fall out of bed and other avoidable accidents occur.
Nursing Home Physical Abuse
Any intentional act, such as hitting, slapping or pushing intended to cause physical pain is abuse. Even the confining a resident to his or her room or in restraints is a type of physical abuse as is the inappropriate use of drugs.
Nursing Home Emotional Abuse
Any intimidation, such as yelling, threatening or intimidating is emotionally abusive. Ignoring an elderly person or isolating them from others are also acts of emotional abuse.
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
In addition to nonconsensual sex acts, it is also considered sexual abuse to make a nursing home resident undress in front of others or to watch others get undressed.
Signs of Abuse
If you are concerned that your loved one may be suffering from abuse in the nursing home where he or she resides, here are some signs to look for.
- You notice your loved one has lost a substantial amount of weight over a short period of time.
- Your loved one has developed bed sores.
- Your loved one suffered a fall and the explanation sounds suspicious or not believable.
- You note a change in behavior and personality or your loved one seems to be drugged.
- You note your loved ones personal hygiene habits are not good.
- Your loved one hesitates to talk when nursing home personnel are within hearing distance.
- You notice unexplained injuries such as burns, cuts and abrasions.
- You see signs of general mental deterioration..
What You Can Do
Begin by surveying the facility and noticing if there are hazards, such as cluttered hallways and poor lighting or unsafe furniture such as chairs with wheels. Note whether mattresses are flush with the bed rails to prevent suffocation. Ask what the ratio is between nursing staff and residents.
If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, you need to do whatever you can to remove them from that particular nursing home. When you know your loved one is safe, you need to take legal action against the nursing home.
A personal injury attorney can assist you in reporting the abuse to the proper state licensing agency. You can also file a lawsuit against the nursing home and those responsible for the abuse of your loved one. It is a difficult area of law, but an experienced attorney will help you through the emotional process. You can achieve some peace of mind just knowing that those who abused your loved one will be held accountable for their actions. Contact our office today for a free consultation with attorney Paul Giannetti.