Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
It is important that the families of elderly loved ones be aware of the common types of abuse and neglect that occur in nursing homes and the ways to hold these facilities accountable. If your loved has been subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the Alabama nursing home abuse lawyers at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. to find out how we can help you obtain compensation for injuries caused by facility staff. Call us today at 205-933-1500.
Alabama’s senior population is expected to expand by more than 80 percent over the next 25 years, which will place even greater demands on already under-staffed long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, as the number of individuals age 65 or older needing nursing home care increases, so does the incidence of abuse and neglect.
Dangers of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
According to a study by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, one in three nursing homes in the U.S. were cited for some form of resident abuse. Nearly 10 percent of the abuse violations posed a risk of serious injury or death or resulted in actual harm.
Sadly, the vast majority of nursing home abuse and neglect cases go unreported. Elder abuse and neglect can have significant physical and psychological impacts on its victims. Physical injuries, in particular, can not only lead to premature death but exacerbate existing health problems.
Nursing home facilities are responsible for meeting the needs of all residents and ensuring their safety. One of the main underlying causes of nursing abuse and neglect is understaffing. In fact, most adverse events in nursing homes are preventable and are largely due to inadequate treatment, insufficient care, and understaffing.
There are certain risk factors that can make someone more vulnerable to becoming the victim of elder abuse. Those include:
- Social isolation or lack of social support
- History of trauma such as domestic violence or sexual assault
- Severe functional impairment or poor physical health
- The elderly person’s own propensity towards aggression or anger
- Caregivers with mental health or substance abuse issues or who are over-worked
- Inadequate training for staff
Common Types of Abuse and Neglect
It is important to recognize the various types of abuse and neglect in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, including:
- Physical abuse – This involves the elderly person suffering pain, injury, trauma, or illness due to the intentional use of physical force.
- Emotional/psychological abuse – This involves intentional verbal or nonverbal behaviors that result in emotional distress or mental anguish.
- Sexual abuse – This includes non-consensual or forced sexual attention, contact, or harassment as well as sexual contact between a patient and caregiver or another person of power.
- Neglect – This involves the caregiver’s failure to meet the elderly person’s basic needs, including social support, medical care, food, water, clothing, or personal hygiene, as well as environmental conditions, such as unclean laundry or linens.
- Financial abuse – This may occur due to improper use or withholding of an elderly persons’ money, assets, or other belongings.
According to the Alabama Department of Senior Services, common warning signs of abuse and neglect include:
- Physical abuse – Injuries such as cuts, scratches, bruises, burns, sprains, or broken bones, that are unexplained or inconsistent are symptoms of physical abuse. Overmedication and unreasonable restraints may also be signs.
- Emotional/psychological abuse – Anxiety, depression, or changes in mental status, as well as sudden changes in behavior such as lack of eye contact, agitation, or withdrawal from normal activities, are signs of emotional/psychological abuse.
- Sexual abuse – Symptoms of sexual abuse are usually consistent with signs of emotional abuse. Other indicators include STIs and fear of being left alone with staff.
- Neglect – Sudden weight loss, bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition, frequent infections, poor hygiene, unfriendly or hostile interactions with staff are signs of neglect.
- Financial abuse – Unusual activity including large cash withdrawals, transfers between accounts, switching or closing accounts, or unpaid bills are signs of financial abuse. Using an elderly person’s possessions or belongings without permission or having them sign legal documents without their understanding or forging their signature are also indicators.
How Our Alabama Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Can Help You
If your family member has been injured due to abuse or neglect by nursing home staff, our experienced elder abuse attorneys at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. can help. We have more than 65 years of collective personal injury experience and are proud of our work standing up for the rights of nursing home residents across Alabama.
We can help your family seek compensation for injuries that were the result of nursing home abuse and neglect and fight to make sure your loved receives the high-quality care they deserve. Contact our Alabama personal injury lawyers at 205-933-1500 to get your free consultation today.