Placing your loved one in a nursing home means that you are placing trust in a group of people who you do not know. Sometimes, that trust can be broken and the environment is no longer safe for your loved one. Nursing home abuse, often referred to as institutional abuse, can present itself in numerous forms – physical, neglect, verbal, and financial. It is important that you pay attention to early warning signs and rely on your instincts when you feel something is wrong. Oftentimes, residents may feel threatened and unable to defend themselves; therefore, they will not report the abuse or neglect on their own.
What to do if You Suspect Abuse or Neglect
If you do suspect nursing home abuse, there are four critical steps you must take to protect your loved one, as well as others, in the facility:
- Recognize the symptoms of abuse or neglect. The symptoms will vary depending on the type of abuse going on, but it is important to know some common symptoms so that you can recognize them more quickly. A patient suffering from neglect could be malnourished, dehydrated, have visible bedsores, poor hygiene, etc. A patient who is being physically abused will have unexplained injuries, scars, and may even be upset around specific staff members. When a patient suffers from verbal abuse, he or she may exhibit symptoms of blame, depression and anxiety, or may be withdrawal. For financial abuse, you may notice that there are frequent, large withdrawals from the patient’s account or recent purchases that cannot be explained.
- Call 911 in an immediate danger situation. If you feel someone’s life is at risk or suspect abuse, call 9-1-1. It could prevent the abuser from having time to leave the scene or come up with a cover story.
Verify the story and help your loved one prove the abuse and/or neglect. It is important to alert authorities of imminent danger, but you must also realize that most elderly abuse and neglect victims suffer from memory loss or debilitating diseases that prevent them from recalling facts. It is important that you help them prove and verify their injuries were the result of neglect rather than natural occurrences. Ways to strengthen proof include:
- Creating a file to document injuries,
- Gathering medical records, or
- Interviewing other patients and staff members.
- Remove the loved one. No matter what, if you suspect abuse or neglect, remove your loved one from that facility immediately and file a formal complaint.
Seek Professional Help with the Situation
Lastly, speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you file your official complaint, but also hold that facility liable for its actions. With the assistance of Malman Law, you may be able to recover compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering, medical costs, or even wrongful death. Call us today for a free consultation at 888-751-2297 to discuss your nursing home abuse case, or fill out our online contact form with your questions.