While many nursing homes provide excellent care to their residents, far too many fall appallingly short. The stark reality is that many nursing homes are understaffed and have inadequately trained employees. Residents of these facilities can suffer terribly in their last days, due to neglect and abuse at the hands of their caregivers.
Elder abuse targets one of our most vulnerable populations and comes in many forms including physical, emotional and financial. By familiarizing yourself with the most common forms of nursing home abuse, you can recognize the early warning signs and help protect your loved ones.
Physical elder abuse is the non-accidental use of physical force against an elderly individual. It may result in pain or impairment, or even death. Physical abuse also includes improper use of drugs or the unnecessary use of physical restraints. This type of elder abuse is often easy to identify, by observing bruises or other injuries, whereas other types of abuse are far less obvious.
Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are the unidentified victims of a far more insidious problem – emotional elder abuse. This may include verbal abuse, or passive behaviors such as ignoring or isolating the elderly resident. This type of treatment can leave elderly residents in states of pain, distress, anxiety or fear. Left unchecked, these emotional responses can trigger physical symptoms that drastically affect the resident’s overall health.
Financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. While it is often perpetrated by family members or others known to the victim, it also comes at the hands of professional caregivers. Abusers may use their position of authority to extort money, or they may gain the elderly resident’s trust and embark on a grand scheme to deplete an elderly person’s accounts.
Nursing Home Falls
As we age, our bodies may become weaker, our vision degenerates and our balance isn’t what it used to be. In addition, elderly nursing home residents may be taking medications that cause impairment. Falls account for nearly 30% of injury deaths in senior citizens. Even seemingly mild falls can result in permanent injury or death.
When a resident moves into a nursing home, the facility is required to design a care plan that includes a fall risk assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to determine what assistance the resident may need to safely move around. Most falls in nursing homes are caused by the caregivers’ negligence, and can be due to a variety of factors such as poor lighting, wet floors, poorly fitted wheelchairs or improper bed height.
Falls can be prevented, with or without the use of restraints such as bedrails. Restraints are typically a last resort, as studies have shown that limiting a person’s mobility can contribute to fall-related injuries. Walking and physical conditioning programs, lowered bed heights, raised toilet seats and avoiding clutter can all help prevent falls. Additionally, facilities should ensure there is adequate staff available to assist residents with getting around.
Bed sores, also known as pressure sores, are all too common in nursing homes. Tragically, the vast majority of bed sores are the result of inattentive care and could have been prevented. Bed sores can be incredibly painful, causing disability and greatly increasing the residents risk of complications such as sepsis or gangrene.
Some very basic preventive measures have been proven to protect residents from this type of injury, including turning residents at regular intervals, keeping them clean and dry, ensuring they are well hydrated and properly nourished, and utilizing the latest technological advances in cushions and mattresses.
If you or your loved one has suffered from an injury or illness due to unprofessional, incompetent or careless treatment at a nursing home, you have legal options that should be discussed with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Types and sign of nursing home abuse
Nursing homes are supposed to provide good care and attention to our loved ones. Unfortunately, however, sometimes nursing home residents become the victims of poor facilities, inadequate staff, lack of attention and inappropriate behavior which might cause trouble to them in the form of injuries like fractures, falls, and bedsores. Nursing home injuries may also include physical or sexual abuse or assault, verbal abuse, medication errors, malnutrition and/or dehydration, among other injuries.
Some of the common warning sign of nursing home abuse include:
- Development of bed sores
- Unexplained injuries
- Rapid loss of weight
- Heavy sedatives for supervision
- Do the necessary research in choosing the right nursing home
Before choosing the right nursing home for your loved one, you should do a self inspection of the facilities, speak with some of the residents and their families and get to know the caretakers. Moreover, you should assess the nursing home for cleanliness, staff interaction with other patients, as well as the overall condition of the nursing home.
Consult a Nursing Home Injury attorney Today!
If you believe that your loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse, you don’t need excuses – you need justice. For a free consultation, call The Falkowitz Law Firm and ask for Gary Falkowitz. At The Falkowitz Law Firm, we answer question about nursing home abuse every single day and we can answer your questions as well.
If you or a loved one have suffered injury due to nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an experienced elder abuse or medical malpractice attorney. If there is a problem, it must be investigated immediately, so the appropriate care and treatment can be provided. Additionally, there may be hidden complications that are not apparent until it is too late to take legal action.