Nursing Home Abuse Takes Many Forms
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA),1 1 in 10 older adults have been subjected to elder abuse and estimates indicate that as many as 5 million elders are abused each year. In addition, the results of one study cited by the organization indicate that only one in fourteen cases are reported to authorities. Other sources indicate that the number of elders abused in nursing homes can be as high as 1 in 3.
It is important for those of us with loved ones in nursing homes to familiarize ourselves with common types of nursing home abuse so we recognize it when we see it. Below, four of the most common forms of nursing home abuse are discussed.
Physical Nursing Home Abuse
Physical abuse occurs nursing home staff physically harm residents. This type of harm could take the form of kicking, hitting, slapping, shaking, or otherwise using physical force upon the resident. In addition, the unnecessary use of restraints can be thought of as a form of physical abuse. Signs that physical abuse may be occurring include unexplained injuries, bruises, black eyes, scratches, cuts, abrasions, or marks left from restraints. In some cases, it may be appropriate to call law enforcement in order to report instances of physical abuse against nursing home residents.
Physical nursing home abuse can often accompany other forms of nursing home abuse such as sexual and financial abuse that will be covered later. Physical nursing home abuse can take a much more subtle form than the overt beating that many visualize. Physical nursing home abuse also includes willfully done harm to a resident of a nursing home through methods such as denying meals, denying medication or treatment, willful neglect of a resident’s wellbeing, and forcing residents to live in other harmful conditions knowingly.
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, sexual abuse in nursing homes continues to be a problem in Florida and throughout the United States. People who engage in this type of conduct tend to target the most vulnerable residents, who often are unable to report the abuse or are even unaware that it is occurring. Residents who may be particularly at risk of being sexually assaulted are those with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other issues that can impair their memory. Nursing home resident’s that are sexually abused often will have hesitation when it comes to reporting such activity even if they are able to. Eldercare facilities should have procedures in place to allow their resident’s the ability to report such activity without fear of retaliation.
Common examples of sexual abuse in nursing homes include the following:
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual assault
- Taking sexual photographs
- Forcing residents to expose themselves
- Inappropriate sexual comments
Nursing Home Emotional AbuseEven if no physical harm occurs, residents can still be mistreated if staff engage in psychologically harmful behavior. Emotional abuse can come in many forms, including taunts, criticisms, name-calling, and belittling. Victims of emotional abuse may also be isolated from others for days at a time. Such abuse can have an extremely harmful effect on a nursing home resident’s psyche and emotional well-being. Emotionally abused residents may fall into a depression, may have serious mood disorders, and may regress to an almost child-like state. Emotional trauma can often occur in addition to the other forms of nursing home abuse.
Emotional nursing home abuse can be especially dangerous since the elderly can be particularly susceptible to emotional trauma. They are also especially susceptible to the physical side effects that emotional abuse can have on a person. Problems such as loss of sleep, lost or gained weight, and fatigue can plague a nursing home resident that has been emotionally abused and can exasperate already existing conditions that they may likely already be contending with.
Nursing Home Financial abuse
Some nursing home residents fall victim to financial or fraud schemes and end up losing a significant amount of money or having their identity stolen. Nursing home staff may also engage in financial abuse by physically stealing from residents, using a resident’s personal information, blackmailing a resident under threat of assault or other abuse, or other forms of fraud. This can do serious harm, especially because it can prevent a resident from continuing to afford the high cost of quality nursing home treatment.
Contact a Compassionate Florida Nursing Home Attorney for Help Today
At the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Clearwater, FL, our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys have represented the rights of injured residents against Brookdale Senior Living and other nursing homes throughout Florida. We truly believe that these facilities should be held fully liable for any physical or psychological injuries that residents suffer and we will bring all of our resources to the table in every injury case.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA