A nursing home offers a safe place for seniors to live out the final years of their lives—at least, families and seniors alike hope for that safe and nurturing environment.
In a nursing home, seniors should receive a high quality of care that improves their quality of life. If they don’t—if, instead, they suffer abuse at the hands of nursing home staff—a Marlton nursing home lawyer can hold the facility accountable.
Usually, seniors move to nursing homes only once they can no longer care for themselves and must leave the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. They and their families expect the nursing home to provide those things they can no longer handle on their own.
Unfortunately, not every nursing home adheres to those standards. In fact, in some cases, nursing home staff may abuse their residents. Abuse of nursing home patients may decrease their quality of life and cause severe injuries or death.
Abuse can occur in several ways, many of which may not seem readily apparent to the friends and loved ones of the senior. Many seniors try to hide the abuse from their loved ones. They may not want to put them out or make a scene. As a result, many friends and family members find out about abuse only long after the fact.
If you notice signs of abuse, you should take fast action to protect your loved one as much as possible.
Physical abuse occurs when nursing home staff members use physical force against a resident.
Physical abuse may start with grabbing or shoving—actions that do not typically leave marks but which can cause pain and enforce the abuser’s commands. Sometimes, physical abuse may include pinching or hitting, often beneath the clothes, where nursing home visitors cannot see the damage.
Signs of physical abuse may include:
Physical abuse typically does not occur in front of visitors. A staff member who abuses your loved one when alone may appear committed and caring when in the presence of visitors or other staff members. That’s what makes abuse so insidious and so difficult to detect.
An emotional abuser may make threats or say things deliberately intended to hurt the older adult. Some emotional abusers will attempt to cut off contact with others, preventing your loved one from calling or talking to you, hiding mail and cards, and even denying visits.
In many cases, emotional abusers enjoy the sense of power they have over the victim. By manipulating your loved one, the abuser can force a response or an action.
Signs of emotional abuse can vary. Some seniors will grow withdrawn and distant. They may show signs of distress when a particular caregiver comes into the room or refuse to speak around that person. Other abused seniors may grow more belligerent or difficult to get along with.
Sometimes, seniors will deny experiencing emotional abuse or insist that it “doesn’t upset them.” Loved ones, however, may notice behavioral changes or an overall sense of unhappiness in the nursing home.
You should investigate sudden unhappiness in a setting that previously pleased your loved one. Watch for any signs of suddenly changing behavior.
Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser forces genital or sexual contact, including contact with the breasts, genitals, or rear.
Seniors with underlying medical conditions, especially those confined to bed, may be particularly prone to sexual abuse. Some caregivers may choose to sexually abuse unresponsive seniors or those with relatively little ability to refuse. A nursing home resident may be vulnerable either due to physical weakness or disabilities or to conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, which can lead to cognitive impairment.
Signs of sexual abuse may include:
In a nursing home, patients have the right to expect a high standard of care. They expect to receive the medical care they need, food, water, and aid with basic self-care tasks that they may no longer have the capacity to perform for themselves.
Unfortunately, neglect often occurs in even nursing homes with a good reputation. Many nursing homes struggle to keep adequate staff on hand. They often need to transfer staff members around. One staff member may be required to perform the duties of two or more workers, especially if employees go on vacation or become ill.
Neglected seniors may show signs of malnutrition or dehydration. You may notice that medical conditions your loved one previously managed without a problem suddenly swing out of control. Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia may start to slip out of the facility more often—potentially suffering harm as a result— with no one providing adequate care and supervision. Bed-bound seniors who are neglected often develop bedsores.
Often, loved ones notice neglect in smaller ways. For example, you may notice your loved one wearing the same clothes for several days in a row or observe that their hygiene has declined. You may see your loved one becoming more withdrawn or showing reluctance to ask for anything, even when he or she clearly needs something.
Neglect can speed up the progression of many medical problems and leave your loved one suffering from additional challenges.
In addition to other types of abuse, some seniors face financial abuse in a nursing home. Caregivers may realize that a senior, especially one who still has command of his or her mental faculties, has money. They may, in turn, try to extort money from the senior.
For example, a caregiver may insist that the senior pay for services that the nursing home should provide automatically. Financial abuse may also present itself in the form of a sob story. A caregiver might tell your loved one all about his or her financial problems and how “just a little” money would help him or her get by.
Some financial abusers in a nursing home setting may consistently encourage your loved one to donate money or pay for things that aren’t their responsibility. Other caregivers may even steal from your loved one directly, sneaking money out of his or her wallet or stealing credit cards or credit card numbers.
When a loved one is financially abused in a nursing home, your family may be stunned and upset to discover that the senior’s savings are suddenly running out. The abused nursing home resident may end up unable to afford their medical treatment, their continued residence in a care facility, and any other purchases they wish or need to make. This can put more pressure on your family to come up with the money for your loved one’s care.
Each nursing home owes a high duty of care to its residents. Nursing homes must ensure that the residents receive food, water, and aid when needed.
Most often, the nursing home bears primary liability for any abuse that takes place in the facility.
However, liability may also rest with:
Consult an experienced personal injury attorney who has worked with nursing home abuse cases in Marlton to learn more about determining liability for your loved one’s injuries. Contact Console & Associates today for help.
Your loved one has the right to seek compensation for the suffering caused by neglect or abuse in a Marlton nursing home. How much money your loved one receives can vary. Most personal injury claims that arise from nursing home abuse include the same types of damages.
Nursing home abuse can lead to considerable medical expenses.
Being the victim of neglect can leave your loved one struggling to manage medical conditions that he or she previously had under control. Getting things back on track can require numerous medical visits and procedures.
Physical abuse, on the other hand, may leave your loved one with severe injuries, including broken bones and traumatic brain injury. Extensive care may be needed to repair the damage done by physical abuse.
Help your loved one keep track of all medical bills related to nursing home abuse. Urgent medical visits, appointments to confirm whether the abuse affected certain conditions, and follow-up appointments for medical treatments are all part of the medical expenses for which your loved one may seek compensation.
Your loved one may also choose to include reimbursement for any mental health expenses accrued as a result of the abuse; an example of this is the cost of therapy for emotional or sexual abuse.
Often, physical abuse and neglect cause a senior’s physical condition to deteriorate quickly. With proper rehabilitation, however, your loved one may regain much of their lost health.
Rehabilitation may include a stay in a long-term care facility or ongoing physical and occupational therapy. Your loved one can include those rehabilitation expenses in a nursing home abuse claim.
Following nursing home abuse, your loved one may choose to move for several reasons. Due to the abuse, your loved one might need a higher level of care than that specific nursing home offers. Your loved one may feel uncomfortable remaining in the nursing home, especially if the staff member who perpetrated abuse or neglect remains on the staff. Your loved one may also choose to move due to a lack of confidence that the nursing home will fix its problems or take care of its residents.
Relocation is often expensive, especially if your loved one has limited mobility. A new facility—especially one that provides additional medical care and support—may also be very costly. Your loved one can include those relocation expenses as part of a personal injury claim.
Your loved one’s suffering reflects everything he or she went through during that period of abuse. Suffering remains unique to each victim, based on the abuse, the victim’s experience, and the length of time the abuse occurred.
Consult a nursing home abuse attorney to learn more about what factors to consider when evaluating your loved one’s pain and suffering related to abuse. Your family member’s suffering may include physical pain, feelings of isolation and loneliness, and more. The nursing home claim may also include any loss of activities that your loved one previously enjoyed but can no longer do because of their permanent injuries.
Compensation for nursing home abuse, in the form of a personal injury claim, could provide the funds your loved one needs to rebuild life following severe abuse. With this much-needed compensation, your family can make sure that your loved one gets the treatment they need for their injuries, that their medical expenses get paid, and that they can move to a new and safer nursing home.
Do you have a loved one who has suffered abuse in a nursing home? Contact Console & Associates personal injury lawyers in Marlton today to learn more about your loved one’s legal right to compensation.
Abuse of any kind in a nursing home calls for a team of attorneys who will stand beside your family, tirelessly pursuing the compensation your loved one deserves. Console & Associates has helped many clients seek compensation for these types of losses. Contact us today at (856) 778-5500 to learn more about your loved one’s right to compensation following nursing home abuse.
Console and Associates, P.C.
1 Holtec Drive, #100
Marlton, NJ 08053
“I would highly recommend Console and Associates, PC for their expertise and quality of work for personal injury claims.” A. Corrado / Client