Elder abuse in nursing homes - What you can do to help

When we read about nursing home abuse in the news, there are often references to physical violence, sexual abuse, or other types of mistreatment. However, it is essential to remember that elder abuse in nursing homes often includes deprivation of life's basic needs such as housing, quality food, and hygienic living conditions.

Elder Abuse is a nightmare scenario for anyone but a horrific reality for many people. The National Center on Elder Abuse indicates there are more than 2 million elder abuse cases each year, astonishing numbers. But unfortunately, there are likely many more nursing home abuse cases that don't get reported. This post hopes to shed some light on what a family member who suspects elder abuse within a nursing home should do. This article sheds light on things to look out for while a family member is in a nursing home and how to spot the warning signs of potential elder abuse.

What are the warning Signs of Elder Abuse?

When you choose a nursing home for your loved one, you must visit the facility at different times of day and extra days of the week to see how it's being maintained on an ongoing basis. It is also a good idea to visit your loved ones after enrolling them in the nursing home frequently. 

This will help you look out for potential red flags such as soiled bedding, bedsores, dirty clothing, bed bugs, body lice, repeated infections, rapid weight loss, foul-smelling rooms, lack of hygiene in bathrooms, etc. These are all telltale signs that your loved one's living conditions are unsanitary and maybe, even dangerous.

What Are Common Types of Elder Abuse found in Nursing Homes?

Broadly defined, elder abuse refers to the mistreatment or neglect of older adults. It may result from intentional acts or simple carelessness and can take various forms, including physical, emotional, or financial abuse.

Some of the more common types of abuse to which individuals in nursing homes may be subjected include the following:

· Overmedication

· Sexual abuse

· Coercion, threats, or intimidation

· Violence

· Unnecessary use of restraints

· Financial exploitation

· Withholding food or medication

· Refusal or failure to treat an injury

· Ignoring requests for care

· Denying access to family or visitors

· Bedsores

· Emotional withdrawal

· Unexplained injuries

· Unexplained infections

· Unsanitary conditions

· Weight loss

· Fearful behavior

· Reluctance to speak in front of the staff

· Bruises

· Depression

When these and other kinds of elder abuse occur, victims can sustain significant physical and emotional injuries. For this reason, it is essential to take steps to ensure that any abuse that has happened or is occurring is quickly addressed and that victims are compensated for their suffering.

The Office of Justice Programs indicates that the vast majority of elder abuse cases go unreported. There are many reasons for the lack of reporting, but it often involves victims being too scared or embarrassed to discuss the matter with others. In other cases, an older adult with cognitive issues may be unaware that the abuse continues. Consequently, it often is up to family members and other loved ones of nursing home residents to recognize and report abuse.

Common Causes of Unsanitary Conditions in Nursing Homes

One of the most common causes of unsanitary living conditions in nursing homes is the understaffing of these facilities. When a nursing home or assisted living facility lacks sufficient trained staff to care for vulnerable, elderly residents, the consequences can be devastating or even deadly for the residents. Some for-profit nursing homes tend to skimp on cleaning supplies and proper, trained staff to save money and maximize their profits. Unfortunately, these are also the types of nursing homes that don't care about residents' basic needs, fail to properly vet employees before hiring them, and fail to make sure that they adhere to health and safety standards.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the 2010 census recorded the highest number and proportion of people 65 and older since population data was first collected in 1790, a trend that is likely to continue. As our population ages, more and more people will turn to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to receive the care they require.

Nursing home residents and their loved ones have a right to expect that they will receive adequate care and be treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, every year, thousands of nursing home residents suffer needlessly due to abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff and administrators. This type of treatment needs to stop, and it is up to the younger generation to pay attention and help end nursing home abuse.

What Do I Do If I Suspect Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home?

If abuse is suspected, friends and family of nursing home residents should alert facility management immediately. If harm seems imminent or ongoing, contact local law enforcement as well. Elder abuse should be reported to your State Agency responsible for dealing with these crimes. They will initiate an investigation and pursue civil or criminal sanctions against the facility.

Holding Nursing Homes Accountable

Unsanitary conditions in nursing homes should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, many people don't realize it. But when nursing home residents live in such deplorable conditions, their mortality rates tend to be higher. This is because unhygienic conditions lead to infections, which could be fatal. For example, when a nursing home resident is made to lie in dirty or soiled sheets, they may develop rashes and bedsores, which could cause a lethal infection. Nursing home residents deserve to live in healthy and dignified conditions, and neglecting them to make a quick buck is never acceptable.

Suppose your loved one has been neglected in a nursing home and has suffered illnesses. As a result, you may be able to file a Pennsylvania nursing home abuse lawsuit seeking justice and compensation. In addition, if you have lost a loved one as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the at-fault nursing home accountable as well. Again, an experienced Pennsylvania nursing home lawyer will be able to help you understand your legal rights and options.

Pursuing a Legal Claim Against Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

Individuals who have been subjected to elder abuse are often entitled to significant financial compensation. Victims must retain legal counsel as soon as possible after it becomes clear that any mistreatment has occurred – a thorough investigation is needed. If you wait, evidence of elder abuse can be lost or destroyed.

Victims of nursing home abuse and their loved ones who have been affected should take specific steps to help their case, including:

  • obtaining incident reports and records from the nursing home facility,
  • taking photographs of any physical injuries sustained by the resident,
  • recording the names of any facility staff that may have participated in the abuse or allowed the abuse to happen, and
  • documenting the existence of any hazardous or unsanitary conditions to which the resident may have been exposed.

If you believe that a parent or another loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact our nursing home abuse lawyers today by calling (610) 660-7780


KaplanMarx is a Philadelphia based law firm focusing on personal injury and accident cases. We pride ourselves in our community roots and help injury victims and their families every day to recover.



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