Elderly Abuse in Nursing Homes
When we entrust the care of our loved ones to a nursing home, we expect them to be treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect in these settings can and do occur. Understanding the different types of abuse can help protect nursing home residents and take action.
Ten of the most common types and examples of abuse are:
Physical abuse concerns any action causing physical harm, pain, or injury to a nursing home resident. It can include hitting, slapping, pushing, or improperly using restraints. Signs may include unexplained bruises, burns, fractures, or frequent hospital admissions.
A shocking 21% of nursing home residents are wrongly diagnosed with severe mental health conditions to subdue them with powerful antipsychotics. Understaffed and overwhelmed, these homes use these medications as chemical restraints to quiet residents, which can prove deadly, particularly for those battling dementia. Deceitful nursing home facilities can misdiagnose healthy residents to avoid reporting the amount of medication employed to restrain them.
Family members have expressed anxiety and reported that some facilities quickly resort to medicating patients when they do not have the resources to attend to residents properly. Understaffing or undertraining is never an excuse for this kind of abuse because care facilities are directly at fault. Monitoring and being aware of your loved one’s condition and medication changes is key. Of course, you should always consult a doctor before discontinuing prescribed medications.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes includes any non-consensual sexual interaction, whether physical contact or exposure. This form of abuse grossly violates the resident’s rights. Indications might include bruises, unexplained sexually transmitted infections, or sudden changes in behavior.
Emotional, Psychological, and Verbal Abuse
Emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse involves causing emotional pain, distress, or anguish through verbal or nonverbal acts. It can include insults, threats, isolation, or ignoring the resident. Signs might be harder to detect but can include depression, withdrawal, agitation, or unusual changes in behavior.
Financial exploitation involves the illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, or assets. It can include forging signatures, stealing money, or coercing the resident into signing documents they do not understand. Signs may include sudden changes in bank accounts, missing belongings, or unusual financial transactions.
Neglect involves failing to fulfill caregiving obligations, which can lead to harm or distress for the resident. It can include ignoring the resident’s basic needs, like food, water, hygiene, or medical care. Signs might include unexplained weight loss, bedsores, poor hygiene, or lack of appropriate medical aids (glasses, dentures, hearing aids, medications).
Self-neglect refers to behaviors that threaten the resident’s health or safety, often due to declining mental or physical health. This could include not taking medications properly, poor hygiene, or refusing necessary assistance. Signs might be similar to those of neglect.
Malnutrition occurs when a resident fails to get adequate nutrients. In nursing homes, this can result from severe neglect. Signs include weight loss, fatigue, and increased illness or infection rates.
A common form of neglect in nursing homes is when a resident does not receive sufficient fluids. Signs include dry skin, confusion, low blood pressure, and rapid heart rate.
In a nursing home, this might manifest as leaving residents unattended for extended periods. Signs can include frequent falls, confusion, weight loss, or a consistent lack of assistance.
How to Report Abuse
Abuse and neglect in nursing homes can take many forms. Knowing the signs and types of abuse can better protect your loved ones. If you suscept a resident is being harmed in a New York Nursing Home:
1. You can call 911 if a resident is in danger.
2. Anyone can report suspected abuse or neglect to the New York Department of Health by filing a complaint. Complaints are anonymous and confidential. You can also call the Nursing Home Complaint Hotline at (888) 201-4563. You can report a complaint regarding an assisted living facility or an adult home by dialing (866) 893-6772.
If your loved one is a victim of abuse or neglect, consider seeking the help of a nursing home abuse attorney, as they can guide you on the necessary steps to ensure your loved one’s safety and rights.