Signs You Need To Hire A Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
Almost 1.4 million people live in nursing homes in the United States. Most of them are elderly, but that’s not always the case.
It is an unpleasant reality. But it’s true that many residents become victims during their stay in nursing homes. Sometimes undertrained or uncaring staff neglects them. Sometimes a staff member outright abuses them.
Sometimes the institution is even aware that there is a problem. But they cover it up to protect their reputation.
If your loved one lives in a nursing home, know these signs of abuse. Educate yourself with the right information. That’s how you’ll know if you should seek help from a nursing home neglect attorney.
First, let’s define what counts as abuse. Abuse occurs when a person takes an action with full knowledge that it will harm another person.
In the case of nursing home abuse it may happen in one of the following ways:
- Outright injuring the resident on purpose
- Locking the resident up without reason
- Intimidating the resident
- Depriving the resident of needed care
- Punishing the resident to the point of causing pain, injury or mental anguish
Any of these actions are serious issues. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim, don’t wait to contact a nursing home neglect attorney. They can help you find out the truth faster than you can on your own. In cases like these, every day counts.
The best way you can protect your loved one is to inform yourself. Abuse can take several different forms. What are those abuses and what are the common signs?
Let’s take a look.
You would think that physical abuse would be easy to detect. That isn’t always the case. Elderly folks fall and injure themselves all the time. It’s easy for nursing home staff to explain away noticeable injuries with this excuse.
Nursing home staff can cover up cuts and bruises with clothing. They can even hide broken bones if the resident is bedridden. Often the staff intimidates the resident into silence. You can’t assume the resident will tell you if something is wrong.
If your loved one has to go to the hospital for an injury, be suspicious. It’s better to investigate and be wrong than to do nothing.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Physical injuries (cuts, bruises, broken bones, welts, dislocations, sprains, burns, etc.)
- Frozen joints
- Broken eyeglasses
- Skull fractures
- Uncharacteristic fearfulness
Some of these signs are more serious than others. Of course, we would always hope that someone puts a stop to the abuse before death occurs.
The best way to do that is to know the signs and start digging ASAP if you suspect something is wrong.
The signs of emotional or psychological abuse are harder to read. You can notice it more often in behavioral changes and the like. But you have to be paying close attention.
There are several forms this type of abuse can take:
- Harsh language (i.e. cursing, criticizing, insulting, condescending, etc.)
Everybody has a bad day once in a while. Sometimes nursing home staff take it out on residents. Of course, it’s not professional and never acceptable.
You don’t have to see signs of physical abuse to seek advice from a nursing home neglect attorney. Don’t hesitate. It never hurts to ask questions.
It’s a horrible thought, but sexual abuse is prevalent in nursing homes. Elderly folks are all too often vulnerable and unable to defend themselves.
Sexual assault includes:
- Making a resident view pornography
- Unwanted sexual comments or advances
- Unwanted kissing or intimate touching
- Genital fondling or penetration
Sometimes other residents perpetrate sexual assaults. Sometimes, again, it is the nursing home staff.
Keep a close eye out for these signs of sexual abuse:
- An unexplained STD
- An infection in the genitals
- Bleeding from the vagina or anus
- Torn or stained undergarments
- Bruises near the breasts, the top of the stomach, or the inner thighs
Many times, residents are unwilling or unable to speak up about what is happening to them. Your close observation is their best defense. And your willingness to find a nursing home neglect attorney to help.
Abuse is a deliberate action with serious consequences. But neglect, whether it is intentional or not is also serious.
Neglect refers to situations where caregivers don’t give needed care. They may do it on purpose or not, but regardless it causes harm to the resident.
Residents have the right to receive appropriate care to keep them safe. They should not be suffering from avoidable pain or harm.
Neglect can also occur when a staff member doesn’t react the way they should to a dangerous situation. By their inaction, the resident suffers physical or psychological harm.
Neglect encompasses a variety of situations
- Unsanitary or unclean living conditions
- Deprivation of food and/or water
- Deprivation of care
- Deprivation of necessary medication
Even if the neglect is unintentional it is still causing damage and not appropriate. Seek help ASAP from a qualified nursing home neglect attorney to find out what your options are.
Isolation occurs in a few different ways. Staff may care for the resident’s physical needs but refuse to speak to them. They may also refuse to offer the help a resident needs to be a part of social activities. Sometimes they even refuse to allow visitors.
There are a few reasons why nursing home staff may seek to isolate a resident. Many times it is to cover up more obvious physical abuse. Isolating the resident is an effective way of quieting questions. Family members may not even be aware that they need to be asking questions.
Isolation itself doesn’t leave any physical marks. But that doesn’t mean the resident has escaped harm. Prolonged isolation can have serious psychological consequences. Residents can become depressed and their mental health suffers.
If the nursing home staff is not allowing you to visit your loved one, find out why. Be aggressive about it. The situation has to be serious for them to refuse visitors.
Another potential sign is that the staff member allows you to visit, but doesn’t leave the room. How does the worker respond if you ask them to leave? They may have a legitimate sounding excuse for not leaving. Watch your loved one anyway to see if they seem afraid or threatened.
If you feel it is necessary, get a nursing home neglect attorney involved right away.
It is common for elderly folks to express confusion or not have a clear mind. This makes it easy for unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of them. This most often shows up as monetary exploitation.
Staff members may talk, trick or threaten a resident into signing over property or money. Even hospital administration sometimes does this. The resident may think they are making a payment for their care. In reality, they are signing over their estate.
There are several common ways monetary exploitation can take place
- Outright forging the resident’s signature
- Cashing the resident’s checks without permission
- Coercing or forcing the resident to sign a will, contract or other legal documents
It is also common for family members themselves to take advantage of residents. For this reason, don’t expect the bank to take your word for things either. Have the right paperwork and everything in order.
At some point, it will be necessary to take care of financial business for your loved one. It’s a good idea to have an impartial third party present. A lawyer or notary can affirm that the elderly person signs with a clear mind.
A good nursing home neglect attorney will know how to look for monetary exploitation.
Overuse of Restraints
As horrible as it sounds, sometimes it is necessary to restrain a resident. The law allows this only in cases when it is necessary to protect the resident.
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 addresses restraints and how staff can use them. For instance, staff cannot use restraints for their own convenience. Neither can they use them as a form of discipline.
Restraints can be either physical or chemical in nature. Both can cause considerable damage if overused. In the worst cases, it can lead to the death of the resident.
Physical restraints include
- Bed rails
- Restrictive chairs
- Hand mitts
- Wrist or ankle restraints
- Vests that tie the resident to a chair or bed
Overuse of these restraints can lead to injuries like
- Muscle atrophy
- Frozen joints
- Edema of the lower extremities
- Fragile bones
- Weakening of the cardiopulmonary system
The bodies of elderly folks, in general, are not in the best shape. Overuse of physical restraints can worsen conditions that already exist.
That makes it difficult to determine if the condition is a natural result of old age or abuse. A nursing home neglect attorney can help you tell the difference.
Chemical restraints most often are drugs used to control undesirable behaviors.
Sometimes they may be necessary for the safety of a resident. For example, residents sometimes get agitated or aggressive towards staff or other residents. A chemical restraint is useful to protect the resident, the staff, and other residents.
Here are some signs of the overuse of chemical restraints
- Infantile behavior or other strange behavioral changes
- Disorientation or confusion
- Unusual cognitive dysfunction
- Loss of autonomy
- Withdrawal from social activities
Again, as folks age, their minds are not as strong as before. Their behavior may change as a result of dementia or Alzheimer’s. It can be hard to see past the normal results of aging to potential abuse.
Don’t be afraid to seek advice from a nursing home neglect attorney.
Sometimes abuse or neglect leads to the absolute worst outcome. Nursing home residents are elderly and it is common for them to die.
It is not right that your loved one dies as a result of abuse or neglect. If you suspect this to be the case, we recommend contacting a nursing home neglect attorney.
Nursing homes will often try to cover up the abuse. You will need professionals on your side to look for the truth.
Death can occur as a result of
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Overuse of restraints
- The wrong medication
As you can see, it can be hard to determine abuse from a legitimate injury. Did the resident fall because of a legitimate accident? Or was the staff member who should have been attending them not doing their job?
Is the resident malnourished because they chose not to eat? Or because a staff member denied them food?
Was the wrong medication an honest mixup? Or was a staff member ensuring the resident’s silence?
It isn’t always cut and dried. That’s why professional help is a must.
It’s too late for your loved one. But their abuser may have other victims. Even though you can’t save your loved one, you may be able to save someone else.
Don’t let potential abusers off the hook. Talk to a nursing home neglect attorney about your suspicions. Click here to learn more about wrongful death cases and what you should do about them.
Find Your Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
As we’ve mentioned spotting abuse in nursing homes isn’t always easy. For even more information about rooting out abuse click here. If you suspect a problem, you need the right kind of help.
Not every attorney is a nursing home neglect attorney. It takes a particular form of expertise to handle these cases well. You want an attorney that will be sensitive and patient with your elderly loved one. But you also want one tough as nails who will stand up for them in court.
About 1 in 10 elderly Americans experience some form of abuse at some point. The sad reality is that 60% of perpetrators are actually family members. But in cases where the perpetrators are nursing home staff, you have recourse.
You can’t erase the suffering your family member has experienced. But you can help avoid it happening to someone else. Contact us about our nursing home neglect attorney today to find out your options.
Don’t let the abuse continue.
If you suspect you need us, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you.
Your case — and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.
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