Nursing Home Abuse
A staggering 1,600 U.S. assisted living care facilities have been cited for nursing home abuse – more than a third of all senior care centers nationwide. Especially fragile and vulnerable to their caretakers, elders placed in nursing homes have been subject to unspeakable mistreatment, ranging from physical and sexual assault to emotional abuse and total neglect.
The law firm of Balkin & Eisbrouch litigates cases stemming from senior abuse and neglect in assisted care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and at the hands of in-house health care providers. With more than 45 years courtroom experience, our attorneys offer the expertise and resources to hold negligent parties liable for your loved one’s physical and emotional suffering.
Sadly, statistics on nursing home neglect are grim, suggesting a widespread epidemic among understaffed facilities that hire poorly screened personnel to care for our seniors. Entrusting your loved one’s health and well-being to total strangers can be unnerving, particularly when signs of elder neglect begin to surface.
All too often, nursing home residents feel too ashamed to reveal the abuses they are suffering. In other cases, the health of the victim has deteriorated so badly, they are no longer able to communicate their pain and anguish. That’s why it’s crucial that families of nursing home residents keep a close watch on their loved one and seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney if they think neglect or abuse has taken place.
Typical warning signs of nursing home abuse
Abuse of seniors can manifest in many different ways – and may involve verbal threats against the elderly, basic neglect of daily needs, physical abuse and financial exploitation.
Some of the more common indicators of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Frequent bruises, cuts or wounds
- Unexplained fractures, sprains or dislocations
- Untreated physical problems like bedsores
- Sudden weight loss or signs of malnourishment
- Tension between the senior and caregiver
- Senior is left unbathed
- Changes in the elder’s personality
- Elder behavior such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling
- Signs of forced restraint, such as marks on the wrist
- Symptoms of under medication or over medication
- Bruising around genitalia, venereal diseases
- Sudden changes in wills, power of attorney, or financial documents
Though physical abuse is often considered the cruelest, seniors in nursing homes are also subject to emotional torment at the hands of their caretakers, including intimidation, mocking, isolation and humiliation.
In the event of an elder’s financial abuse, the family may also have grounds for legal recourse. Clues such as forged signatures on checks, tardy bill payments, unusual money transfers or changes in power of attorney are common signs of this type of exploitation.
Protecting against elder abuse
The demands of caring for an elder, especially those with dementia or Alzheimer’s – can be challenging for any assisted living care home. Beyond screening the facility for proper accreditation and staff qualifications, there are certain steps families can take to help protect their loved ones from nursing home neglect.
Recommendations for avoiding nursing home neglect & abuse:
- Visit your loved one as often as possible. Establish a relationship as a trusted confidante.
- Whenever possible, offer to stay with the elder so the caregiver can have a break.
- Monitor the elder’s prescriptions to look for signs of over or under medication.
- Be on the alert for financial abuse. Scan bank accounts and credit card statements regularly to look for unauthorized transactions.
Understaffed, underfunded facilities contribute to the problem
Inadequate state and federal Medicare funding is at the crux of the issue, as most care facilities are fiscally strapped and forced to make cutbacks across the board. Though recent initiatives have been enacted to improve health and safety standards in nursing homes, residents are still at risk for neglect and mistreatment.
Nursing home staff may be prone to elder abuse under the following circumstances:
- Lack of training and emotional sensitivity to work with seniors
- Overworked with too many responsibilities
- Underpaid and working under poor conditions
- Insufficient medical equipment or supplies
Every year, multi-million dollar settlements and court awards are granted in nursing home abuse lawsuits. In 2010, a Georgia assisted living care operator was forced to pay $43 million for the wrongful death of one of their residents, who died from severe malnourishment and neglect.
Another elder abuse case in California involving severe understaffing ended in a $63 million settlement against the nursing home chain.
Get experienced legal advice
The attorneys at Balkin & Eisbrouch are dedicated to fighting elder abuse and pursuing justice on behalf of innocent seniors. If you suspect signs of nursing home neglect, we encourage you to take immediate action to prevent any further harm. Our personal injury law firm, with offices nationwide, will help you take legal action against negligent caretakers.
Your loved one may be entitled to monetary damages as a result of the neglect or mistreatment they have suffered. Statutes of limitation apply to all nursing home abuse cases, so please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to determine your legal rights.
- HelpGuide.org, Elder Abuse and Neglect, http://www.helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm
- ABC News, Nursing Home Abuse Increasing, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nursing-home-abuse-increasing/
- ABC News, Elderly Abused at 1 in 3 Nursing Homes: Report, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92689