It is estimate that somewhere around 1.5 million people living in nursing homes, and if one of your family members are in a nursing home, safety is probably one of your primary concerns. People are placed in a nursing home for long term care when they experience physical and/or emotional decline. Others are placed in a nursing home for short term rehabilitation, say after a hip replacement. Either way, nursing home residents should be free from danger, but unfortunately this is not case, and abuse happens.
If you believe that a loved one is being abused, has been injured or is suffering from neglect in a nursing home, call Guy DiMartino Law right away.
Elderly people who living in a nursing home are vulnerable. Many feel alone, isolated and are totally dependent on the nursing home staff for bathing, dressing and eating. The last thing the nursing home resident wants to cause a problem by complaining about being abused or neglected. The resident's greatest fear is that they will not be taken of properly or suffer retaliation, so they suffer in silence.
Nursing home residents can be harmed in different ways, however, the common denominator is that they will experience physical and/or mental injury. In additional to physical abuse, which we all can understand, neglect can take many different forms. As an example, I have been in nursing homes where the staff puts food in front of a resident, it is clear the resident cannot feed herself, and then an hour later the staff takes the food and throws it away. The failure to help a resident with eating, drinking, bathing, transferring in and out of bed, toileting, and keeping clean is also neglect. Sometimes, we see cases of financial abuse where the nursing home staff coerces the resident to get money from the resident.
If a loved one is in a nursing home, the greatest protection you can afford them is to be present and pay attention. Visit on different days of the week and different times. When you are in the nursing home, use your senses, look around, speak with other residents and the staff and be sure to smell. Take a few minutes and assist your loved one with hygiene. Check their skin for integrity, check their backside to make sure there is not skin breakdown or bedsores, hold their hands, but your hand on their skin to gage the temperature and fluid level.
Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse can happen in many ways. Isolating a resident is one of the most cruel types of emotional abuse because nobody wants to feel isolated and alone. Other forms of emotional abuse can be threatening, yelling at, humiliating or being condescending to a resident. For instance, humiliating a resident would include allowing them to sit in a soil filled diaper for hours and then giving them a hard time when they have to clean the resident. Nobody, wants to sit or lay in their own excrement for hours.
Signs of emotion abuse can include:
Withdrawal from staff and other residents
Changes in grooming habits and hygiene
Fear of a particular staff member or members
Physical Abuse: Is just want you would think. I have seen cases where nursing home workers will pull the resident's hair and pinch the resident to discipline them.
Signs of physical abuse can include:
Bruises that are unexplained
Restraint marks on wrists and ankles
Sexual Abuse: Yes, it happens in nursing homes. This involves sexual contact without consent. Folks with dementia or Alzheimer's disease are not able to consent. Signs of sexual abuse can be physical or behavioral.
Sigs of sexual abuse can include:
Recurrent bladder infections
Bruising in the inner thighs
Infection including STD (sexually transmitted disease)
Withdrawal from others
Generally, even outside of the nursing home environment, seniors are taken advantage because they made need assistance from others. Some authorities say that 1 in 20 seniors are taken advantage of in one form or another. We see this all the time when an elderly parent puts a kid on their bank account and the kid starts to believe that it is their money in the account. In the nursing home context, these are things that you want to be aware of:
Signs that your loved one may be getting financially exploited:
Your loved one starts missing checks or checks start bouncing
Credit or debit card charges that are out of the ordinary
Personal property goes missing
Bed Sores: People in nursing homes are just not as mobile as they used to be. If they sit or lay in one position for hours without being turned or reposition, their skin can start to break down and cause the dreaded bed sores. Some skin breakdown can happen even with the best of care. However, if your loved one has a Stage III or Stage IV bedsore (pressure ulcer), this can mean that there has been some neglect/abuse.
Dehydration: If a loved one is constantly dehydrated causing kidney problems and hospitalization, this can mean that something is wrong.
Repeated Falls: Again, elderly folks can fall even under the best of circumstances, however, if your loved one is a fall risk and repeatedly falls, without the nursing home putting in some fall prevention interventions, this can mean that something is wrong.
If you have any questions about Nursing Home Abuse, Neglect, Negligence call Guy DiMartino Law.