For many families with aging seniors, nursing homes offer the only practical option for quality care. Nearly two million seniors live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities across the United States, and of those, nearly 10 percent experience some type of abuse. Because of physical and cognitive vulnerabilities, victims of elder abuse cannot protect themselves or enlist help. Often, elderly abuse in nursing homes goes unreported, but it can jeopardize the health of patients and even cause death in some instances. Bringing the problem to the forefront and taking proper action against elder abuse helps reduce the number of cases each year.
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Residents in nursing homes experience many types of abuse, and some show no clear indicators or physical signs. This makes the suspicion of abuse difficult to prove.
Patients who experience neglect do not receive the proper care to meet their emotional, physical, and medical needs. Neglect puts patients at risk for health problems, and it often leads to emotional and/or physical abuse.
Cases of emotional abuse against patients often prove difficult to verify. Emotional abuse occurs when caregivers blame, demean, or frighten patients or when they engage in humiliation, intimidation, neglect, or ridicule.
Types of physical abuse in nursing homes include biting, hitting, pushing, scratching, and an inappropriate use of restraints. Physical abuse to elderly residents does come with indicators in some instances. Suspicions of physical abuse become more credible with the discovery of marks on a patient’s body.
Stealing from patients has become a common problem in nursing home facilities. Caregivers steal money, personal property, or information by tricking or coercing elderly residents to reveal bank account and credit card numbers. Some caregivers also pressure patients to make changes in deeds, wills, and trusts that benefit them directly.
The least detected, reported, and acknowledged type of abuse, sexual abuse of elders in nursing homes involves any type of non-consensual sexual contact between a caregiver and a patient. In many cases, the patient also experiences physical and emotional abuse. Caregivers trick, coerce, manipulate, or force residents to engage in contact.
Prevention of Elder Abuse
When admitting a loved one to a nursing home, people should choose facilities carefully. Those that train staff how to detect abuse, to assist victims, and to report perpetrators make the best options. Other important considerations include whether or not the administrator requires background checks before hiring staff and the use of video surveillance.
Dealing with Suspicions of Abuse
Nursing home laws exist to ensure caring treatment for residents. People who suspect their loved ones have experienced abuse should consult with the nursing home administrator immediately to discuss the problem and determine protective action. If a future incident occurs, people should remove loved ones from the facility, and contact the proper state hotline to find an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in nursing home abuse helps curb the emotional distress that comes with legal action and protects other residents from becoming victims of abuse.