It is estimated that over 3.2 million adults live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities across the country and this number is only expected to grow. While many of us would like to provide care for our senior loved ones at home, we are often ill-equipped to do so and cannot afford to provide the round-the-clock care that is sometimes necessary. Therefore, we entrust the well-being of our elderly loved ones to professionals. However, that trust is often betrayed.
According to the Adult Protection Services (APS), about 1 out of 10 elderly individuals experience some type of abuse. This estimate does not include the abuse of an elderly individual’s finances, which occurs at a rate of about 41 per 1,000 people. Furthermore, only 1 out of every 14 cases of elder abuse is ever reported to the authorities.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can come in several different forms, such as physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and neglect. Neglect can be active, though it is often passive and the result of inadequate staffing. Regardless of the cause though, neglect can contribute to serious medical conditions such as malnutrition, bed sores, skin infections, and dehydration. Below is a list of the red flags you should look out for no matter what type of abuse your elderly loved one is suffering from.
Physical abuse can involve any number of actions that can cause bodily harm, ongoing impairment, or physical pain. It can involve hitting, kicking, burning, force-feeding, or even using physical restraints. If your elderly loved one is being physically abused, you might observe certain red flags like welts, broken bones, bruising, skull fractures, unexplained cuts, dislocations, sprains, evidence that he or she was given too much or too little medication, and sudden changes in his or her behavior.
Sexual abuse is defined as any kind of sexual contact that is unwanted or cannot be consented to. It can include sexual assault, intercourse, sodomy, coerced nudity, touching, or taking nude pictures of the individual. Signs of sexual abuse you should be aware of include unexplained STDs, bruises on the breasts or genitals, bleeding from the anus or vagina, underwear that is stained or torn, and unexplained genital infections.
Emotional abuse generally involves insults, verbal assaults, humiliation, threats, intimidation, and harassment. Oftentimes, the elder who is being emotionally or psychologically abused will exhibit certain behavioral changes, such as unresponsiveness, increased agitation, behavior that mimics dementia, or a more withdrawn attitude.
Neglect of an elder can be intentional or the result of understaffing. Elderly individuals who are suffering from neglect generally do not receive proper care, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine, personal safety, or comfort. Some of the most telling signs of neglect include bed sores, untreated health problems, unsanitary living conditions, lack of running water, malnutrition, and dehydration.
Financial abuse is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elderly person’s assets or property. This kind of abuse can involve forged signatures, taking cash from the elderly person, signing the elderly person’s checks, stealing possessions or money, and coercing an elderly person to sign documents he or she does not understand. Red flags that could indicate financial abuse include changes to legal documents, large amounts of money withdrawn from the elderly person’s bank account, the disappearance of the elderly person’s funds or possessions, and the transfer of assets to someone who is not in the family.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused in any way, report it immediately by calling 911.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Mississippi
At Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A., our team of nursing home abuse attorneys is committed to providing fierce legal representation on behalf of the wrongfully injured. If you believe that your elderly loved one is being abused, report the incident immediately, then obtain legal representation to hold the responsible party accountable and to ensure your family receives fair and just compensation.