Nursing Home Abuse: What You Need to Know
Placing a loved one in a nursing home can be an incredibly difficult decision to make. You must place your full trust in the nursing home and hope it will provide your loved one with the care and attention they need to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Nursing home neglect is a serious issue that can result in physical harm, emotional trauma, and even death. Here’s what you need to know about nursing home neglect.
Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and financial exploitation. Unfortunately, victims of nursing home abuse often suffer in silence as their mistreatment goes unreported or unpunished. However, filing a lawsuit against the nursing home facility can help victims receive compensation for the damages they have incurred.
So what do you need to know to protect your loved one? And what should you do if you suspect your loved one is being neglected? We’ve compiled a list of the most important information regarding nursing home abuse below.
Understanding Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Neglect is a type of abuse that occurs when a resident’s basic needs are unmet. Nursing home neglect occurs when a nursing home fails to provide adequate care and attention to its residents. This can take many forms, including:
- The failure to provide adequate medical care
- The failure to bathe residents regularly
- Not providing social activities
- Causing dehydration or malnutrition by not monitoring water or food intake
Nursing home abuse, unlike neglect, is more intentional and causes direct harm to the patient. Forms of abuse include things like physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and financial exploitation.
Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
There are several warning signs that may indicate nursing home neglect. These include:
- Poor hygiene: This may include dirty clothing, matted hair, and strong odors.
- Unexplained injuries: Such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones.
- Malnutrition or dehydration: Signs of either may include weight loss, dry mouth, or cracked lips.
- Medication errors: This may include missed doses, incorrect dosages, or medications not being given at the proper time.
- Lack of mobility aids: If a resident requires a wheelchair or other mobility aids that are not provided, this may be a sign of neglect.
- Unsanitary living conditions: Dirty bedding, soiled clothing, or unclean living areas can all be warning signs of neglect.
- Changes in behavior: If a resident becomes withdrawn, depressed, or anxious, this may be a sign of neglect or abuse.
- Pressure ulcers: Also known as bedsores, these are a sign that a resident is not being repositioned frequently enough or not receiving appropriate care.
It is essential to note that these warning signs may not always indicate neglect, and there may be other explanations for the occurrence of any of the above symptoms. However, if you notice any of these warning signs, it is important to investigate further. Always ask your loved ones questions in a safe and reassuring manner to ensure they are receiving the care they need.
Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
If a senior citizen who is the victim of nursing home abuse is mentally capable, they can file a lawsuit on their own. If they are not, family members can file suit on their behalf. A lawsuit will help the victim to receive compensation for damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Expenses of transferring to a new nursing home
- Any other damages sustained as a result of the abuse
The Civil Lawsuit Process
Civil lawsuits can take up to 18 months to be completed, from when a claim is first filed to when a verdict or settlement is found. It is critical to seek a case evaluation from a skilled nursing home abuse attorney to determine if a claim has grounds for a lawsuit. Typically, a civil suit must prove three facts: that the victim was older than 65 and a “dependent adult,” that the nursing home facility abused or neglected the victim, and that the victim incurred damages as a result of the abuse.
The process includes pleadings/filings, discovery, trial, and appeal during a lawsuit. Pleadings/filings involve both the plaintiff and defendant filing paperwork explaining their version of the story. In discovery, both parties present evidence to support their pleadings. If the two parties cannot agree to settlement terms outside of court, the case moves into a trial. If either the defendant or the plaintiff does not agree with the verdict, they may file an appeal to an appellate court.
Nursing home neglect is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences for your loved one. If you suspect your loved one is experiencing nursing home neglect, it’s important to take action immediately. By understanding the signs of neglect and taking appropriate steps to address the situation, you can help protect your loved one and ensure they receive the care and attention they deserve.
If you are ready to take action and hold the responsible party accountable, filing a lawsuit against the abuser is the next step. By filing a lawsuit, victims can receive compensation for the damages they have incurred. Seeking a case evaluation from an experienced attorney will help you to determine if there are grounds for a lawsuit and fight for the compensation you and your loved one are entitled to.