Compassionate Elder Care Attorney Helping Families in Chicago Identify Nursing Home Abuse
Currently, the United States is experiencing a high volume of elderly in the population. With such great numbers, nursing homes across the country are finding themselves overwhelmed with patients. Sadly, to meet those demands, nursing homes are hiring inadequately trained staff or staff that have not undergone proper background checks.
With more patients than there are care professionals and the dwindling numbers of qualified caretakers, elderly residents of nursing homes are susceptible to neglect and abuse.
What the Numbers Tell Us
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the greatest number of people aged 65 and older was in 2010, which accounted for 13 percent of the total population. The Boomer Generation is expected to continue growing, and from 2012 to 2050 it is projected that the United States will have a spike in their older population.
By 2050, the population of 65 and older is projected at 83.7 million, which is double that of the 2012 estimates.
Elder abuse is widely underreported. In fact, one New York State study found that for every known case, they expected 24 to be unreported.
Elder abuse tends to be predominantly physical abuse, while verbal and sexual abuse follows in second and financial exploitation in the third.
Risk Factors for an Abusive Nursing Home
Studies suggest that certain risk factors might make a patient at higher risk of becoming a victim of elder abuse, these risk factors include:
- Lower social support from family members increasing the risk of all types of mistreatment in a nursing home.
- Dementia enhances the risk of abuse and harm too. In fact, 50 percent of those with dementia experience some type of elder abuse.
- Women are more likely to be abused than men in a nursing home.
- Poor physical health and impairment also increase the risk of ill-treatment.
- Living with many household members increases the likelihood of abuse.
- Lower income and poverty increases the chances of abuse as well.
Who are the Biggest Abusers?
Did you know that certain types of people are more likely to abuse an elderly patient than others?
The perpetrators are usually adult children and spouses. However, in a nursing home, the perpetrators are more apt to be male and have a history of substance abuse. Social isolation and unemployment can lead to higher rates of abuse too.
Family members are sadly the biggest abusers. However, the nursing home studies have found that strangers still constitute more than half of the arrested perpetrators, and the business sector sees more Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
What to Consider When Looking for a New Nursing Home
When you first tour a nursing home, you are greeted with friendly staff members. However, they knew you were coming. You scheduled your tour appointment ahead of time, and they had adequate time to prepare.
Most abuse is done behind closed doors, and you cannot readily see the evidence.
Whether you are looking at nursing home options for a loved one, or you are worried that your current nursing home is not the right choice for your family member, be on the lookout for the red flags.
Some warning signs are subtle, while other times they are obvious. Regardless, if you know what to look for, then you are better prepared to understand what you are seeing and act.
Elder abuse is the mistreatment that occurs in a nursing home or assisted living facility. It is referred to as institutional abuse, and it is done by those with legal obligations to care for their residents. They are supposed to provide loved ones with protection, health, and keep them safe from harm.
Abuse ranges from physical to sexual and sometimes psychological. They can also include a combination of different forms of ill-treatment, and the goal is to control the individual.
Realize that neglect and abuse are two different forms of mistreatment. However, they are both very serious and life-threatening. Therefore, you must know the various signs of neglect and ill-treatment, while sometimes the two can overlap, to identify what hazards your loved one might face.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect is like abuse in a few ways, but they are not the same. Nursing home neglect is a breach of duty or providing substandard care to a resident. The violation must result in a foreseeable outcome, such as poor health due to lack of nutrition.
There are multiple types of nursing home neglect too, including:
- Emotional and Social Neglect: Emotional neglect is when a patient is repeatedly ignored. They might be left alone or snapped at by over-stressed nursing home caretakers.
- Personal Hygiene Neglect: Patients that do not receive assistance with bathing, cleaning, brushing their teeth and other daily hygiene tasks suffer from hygiene neglect. This can lead to other health concerns, including bedsores.
- Basic Needs Neglect: Patients in a nursing home have basic needs, including water, proper nutrition, and a clean environment.
- Medical Neglect: If a patient of a nursing home does not receive attention, safety, medication, or treatment for medical concerns, they are the victim of medical neglect.
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect, the following warning signs might apply:
- Unexplained and sudden weight loss
- Bed sores and pressure ulcers on the skin
- Injuries from falls
- Malnutrition or signs of dehydration
- Unusual changes in his or her behavior
- Changes in their appearance and hygienic efforts
- Lack of interaction between staff
- Environmental hazards present, including poor lighting, cluttered hallways, uncleaned rooms, and unsafe furniture items
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is the physical, emotional, and financial exploitation of the patient in the nursing home. Nursing home staff not only must care for a patient, but not intentionally cause them harm.
Some common signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Emotional or Physical Changes – The biggest indicator of abuse is the physical and emotional changes you might see in your family member. They might be unable to function physically, suffer from depression or anxiety, and they could stop taking part in activities that they used to enjoy. You might notice lacerations, bruises, or signs of restraint marks on their skin.
- Unanswered Questions – When you ask staff about your loved one’s condition, they should be able to answer you clearly and explain what might be going on. If you notice that your questions go unanswered or they are deflected, that is a warning sign that there is something to hide.
- Frantic and Disorganized Staff – Staff should be on top of their agenda and patients always. If you notice that the staff is always busy and overstretched, that is a warning sign of an ill-run and poorly staffed facility.
- Higher Staff Turnover Rates – While turnover happens in any industry if you notice that high turnover rates affect your loved one’s care, you may consider moving them. Staff pairing is important, and when a patient suffers frequent staff changes, it is hard to monitor the level of care they are receiving.
- Refusal to Receive Care – If your loved one does not want to receive care from a particular caretaker, that could be a warning sign that something is going on. While not all refusals indicate abuse, your loved one’s actions when that person enters the room could tell you if there is an issue.
- Dehydration and Malnutrition – If your loved one does not have proper nutrition and hydration, you will see it on them physically. They will have less energy, their skin could appear to sag, and they might say that they missed meals.
- Gut Feeling – Sometimes it comes down to your gut feeling. You can sense that something is not right with a family member or the way the facility is run. If you do not have a good feeling about a facility, there is a reason. Therefore, investigate why you do not feel good and perhaps move your loved one to a place where you feel less uneasy about leaving them there alone.
Visit Frequently and Always Inspect
A good nursing home can turn bad after several staff changeouts or when they become overrun with patients. Therefore, always visit your loved one as often as you can and be on the lookout for these indicators of abuse and neglect.
You are your family member’s first line of defense and often the only line of defense. Nursing homes, including those with state funding, are never inspected as often as they should, and that means abuse and neglect are only caught by those who frequent the facility.
Was Your Loved One a Victim of Abuse?
If the nursing home staff abused your loved one, contact the attorneys at Malman Law today.
We hold nursing homes accountable for neglect and abuse, and we ensure that the patients there are protected. We not only seek compensation, but we ensure that the nursing home is used as an example to others of what behavior our society will not tolerate.
Schedule your consultation with our advocates now to discuss your case at 888-307-2051 or request more information online.