Often, family members do not have the skills and resources to care for their elderly loved ones who require special care. Having to delegate this care to a skilled facility is a heart-wrenching decision that many people are required to make at some time in their life. When the decision is made, it is imperative to ensure your loved one is receiving the attention and care they deserve and that is promised by the nursing home. If the facility hired to care for your loved one fails to perform its duties appropriately and adequately, the elderly individual and his or her family members may have the right to recover damages for injuries resulting from the facilities breach of its duties and care.
Elderly individuals in nursing homes are vulnerable and can't protect themselves - that is the very nature of assisted living or long-term care centers. Sadly, because of this, the elderly and infirm become targets of neglect or victims of crime. Nursing home abuse is often unreported because the victims do not report the abuse for fear of being further neglected, dependence on others, or difficulty communicating. You can help your loved one by being an effective advocate for them, staying in touch regularly, and by knowing the signs of elder abuse.
Here are some warning signs of nursing home abuse and mistreatment:
- Signs of neglect: Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean and appropriate clothing. Appropriate medical aids such as glasses, medications, and mobility aids should be available. Also, a person's living space being cluttered, hazardous, dirty, or without adequate facilities is a sign of neglect. Adequate supervision should be given to those in need, such as individuals with dementia.
- Signs of financial abuse and exploitation: Caregiver has control of a person's money, but fails to provide for that person's needs. A vulnerable elder/adult has signed property transfers such as a Power of Attorney or a new will but is unable to comprehend the transaction or what it means. Lack of amenities the victim could afford. Be on the lookout for increased use of credit cards, increased cash withdrawals, and unusual purchases.
- Signs of emotional abuse: Be on the lookout for isolation of the elder, uncharacteristic changes in behavior, withdrawal or disinterest in normal activities. Caregivers should not be verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, or uncaring.
- Signs of physical and/or sexual abuse: Unexplained or questionable injuries such as broken bones, cuts, sores, or bruises should be investigated. You should also pay attention to questionable or inconsistent explanations for injuries. Sexual abuse of elders does happen. Watch for bruises or bleeding in private areas, unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, or inappropriate touching or flirtation by a caregiver.
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, contact the administrator of the facility, and in an emergency situation law enforcement and the state authorities should be contacted immediately. Also, please file a formal complaint so the problem or issue is fully documented. This may be difficult to do for fear of retribution or expulsion from the facility. However, this is the only way your loved one or somebody else's loved one will be fully protected.
If an attorney is needed, please contact Paoli Law Firm at 406-542-3330. We are experienced in nursing home negligence cases and will work hard to hold negligent nursing homes and staff members responsible for their misconduct.