Like many people, you may have avoided placing an elderly loved one in a nursing home for as long as possible. Between the concern you have that doing so will take away your loved one’s independence and the seemingly never-ending news reports about nursing home abuse, you may have gone to great lengths to avoid the nursing home option; however, at some point, a nursing home often becomes the only option. Fortunately, there are nursing homes that provide competent, caring, and compassionate care to patients; however, you should know how to recognize the signs of abuse or neglect. To help you, an Indianapolis elder law attorney at Frank & Kraft offers some tips on how to spot the signs of nursing home abuse.
What You Should Know About Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The population of older Americans (defined as age 65 and older) in the United States has increased dramatically over the last several decades and is expected to continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. Because of that growth, the demand for services geared toward seniors has also increased, forcing the long-term care industry to try and keep up. That means that caregivers may be hired without conducting proper background checks and administrators may overlook complaints and problems. Sadly, that also means that nursing home abuse and neglect happen far too often as the following figures show:
- Studies indicate that 7-10 percent of the elderly suffered from at least one episode of abuse within the past year.
- More than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse.
- More than 90 percent of nursing home residents report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Almost half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients.
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
Recognizing Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Often, victims of nursing home abuse cannot speak up while other residents are ashamed to be a victim or fear speaking up. That makes it even more important for loved ones to learn to recognize potential signs of nursing home abuse, such as:
- Injuries that cannot be explained or that occur with frequency
- Excessive, unexplained, or frequent bruising
- Indications of restraints used on ankles and/or wrists
- Weight loss
- Anger or hostility
- Depression or mood swings
- Urinary tract infection (sadly, sexual abuse of seniors does happen)
- Missing medication or not taking medication as prescribed
- Personal items missing
What Should I Do If I Spot Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
While there may be an innocent explanation for any of the above potential signs of abuse, it is better to act on suspicion immediately than wait for additional signs of abuse. If possible, try and talk to your loved one about your concerns. If you cannot do that, or you still have concerns after talking to your loved one, share your concerns with the facility administrator. Sometimes this is very productive and leads to an investigation while in other facilities avoiding liability is more important than preventing abuse. Filing a report with the appropriate law enforcement agency may also be necessary given that elder abuse can be a criminal offense. Finally, consult with an experienced elder law attorney immediately. Not only can nursing home abuse form the basis of a civil lawsuit, but you may need to petition for guardianship over your loved one to have the legal authority to pursue a lawsuit and/or remove your loved one from the facility.
Contact an Indianapolis Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about nursing home abuse or elder law issues, contact an experienced Indianapolis elder law attorney at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.