When someone makes the difficult decision to put a loved one into a nursing care facility, they believe that the person will get the care they need. Unfortunately, all too often residents of nursing homes become the target of some type of abuse during their stay.
Many people underestimate the frequency or severity of abuse levied against residents. Reports from The National Council on Aging (NCOA) indicates that the wider problem of as many as five million adults over the age of 60 are victims of elder abuse, especially in nursing homes. And in 2020, more than 15,000 complaints of abuse were sent to nursing home ombudsman (advocates) by residents and their families.
In many cases, the resident can’t defend themselves the way most people would. Residents with dementia and other cognitive disabilities may not be able to communicate the abuse to anyone. They can’t get up and leave, and they can’t fight back. Complaints to the ombudsman or other responsible parties may be ignored. If your loved one is telling you that they’re being mistreated, it’s up to you to be their voice and defender.
Look For Signs
One of the best ways to protect your loved one is to visit often, and ask others to visit. Residents that experience social isolation are more likely to suffer abuse in a nursing home. Frequent visitors not only help the elder with loneliness and socialization, it helps family members observe. Visiting also puts the staff on notice that someone is paying attention.
Nursing home abuse can take many forms, so be on the lookout for:
· New and unexplained injuries, including those to the head and brain
· Infections such a sepsis
· Sexually transmitted diseases
· Bedsores, aka “pressure ulcers”
· Changes in demeanor
· Anxiety, fear, or depression
· Fear or change in demeanor in the presence of a caregiver
· A “drugged out” demeanor from the use of psychiatric prescriptions, especially in someone who never used them before
· Marks and injuries from physical restraints around the wrists or ankles
· Signs of neglect, such as malnutrition or weight loss, dehydration, and a lack of basic hygiene
· Missing money, property or other financial concerns
Abuse in nursing homes can be from staffers and caregivers as well as other residents. Women are more likely to be abused, with the abuser more often being male.
These are just some of the signs and symptoms of abuse in a nursing home. When residents fear being left in a nursing home, they are very likely suffering from neglect or abuse.
What To Do
If your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911.
Nursing home abuse should also be reported to the appropriate agencies.
· For non-emergency cases, contact the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, either through their online portal that’s available 24/7 (but only monitored during the hotline’s hours) You can also call the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 800-392-0210, which is available from 7 am through 8 pm, 365 days per year.
· You can also request additional information on elder abuse and neglect and get assistance filing a complaint against a nursing home or long-term care facility through:
- Missouri Ombudsman Program
- Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
- Missouri Adult Protective Services
- Missouri Attorney General’s Office
While your priority is to put an end to your loved one’s misery and mistreatment, a nursing home abuse attorney can also help you recover financial damages for medical care, moving expenses, and other related costs. A claim will help end abuse for your loved one and so many others in the same situation. Begin working with your attorney as soon as you can to protect your rights and begin the process of getting justice for your loved one.
A Voice For Kansas City’s Most Vulnerable
When an elderly nursing home resident can’t or won’t speak up for themselves, they need you to be their voice. Reporting neglect, abuse or other problems with a nursing home and taking aggressive action is the best way to put a stop to it for the person who can’t.
The Popham Law Firm protects our most vulnerable when they’re unable to. If your loved one has been neglected or harmed in a nursing home, call us at (816)221-2288 or 1-844-243-2288, or use our online contact form to make an appointment.