People who live in nursing homes are vulnerable to many types of abuse because they cannot escape the environment. The facility is your loved one’s home, even if temporarily while recuperating from a fracture, surgery, or hospitalization. Nursing home residents tend to be frailer than the general population, which makes them less able to defend themselves from physical harm.
The abusers also know that the testimony of older adults might not receive the same weight as that of others because of assumptions about confusion and the declining cognitive status of the elderly. Our aging loved ones need our protection from abuse. Holding the perpetrators responsible for the harm they cause can offer some justice to the victims. A nursing home abuse lawyer in Jacksonville Beach, FL can help.
Categories of Nursing Home Abuse
There are five primary types of abuse that happen in nursing homes:
- Physical abuse: when someone intentionally harms your loved one physically. A few examples of physical abuse include hitting, punching, slapping, burning, and shoving.
- Emotional abuse is when someone causes psychological harm. It is emotional abuse when someone threatens, harasses, or humiliates a resident. Additional examples include tormenting someone about their religion, ethnic origin, medical condition, impairments, sexual orientation or identity, or gender. Intentionally causing emotional pain by saying hateful things to the person is abuse.
- Financial abuse happens when thieves take things of value from a nursing home resident. This category can include taking items from a resident’s room, using the person’s checks, cash, or credit cards, or stealing the person’s identity, bank accounts, investments, and Social Security benefits.
- Sexual abuse in a nursing home can consist of unwanted sexual attention or harassment, or when someone engages in sexual activity with someone who lacks the legal capacity to give consent. Sexual assault happens in nursing homes. A person can lack the legal capacity to consent either because of an altered state of consciousness (for example, is comatose or in a persistent vegetative state) or because of cognitive impairment due to dementia or some other cause.
- Basic human rights violations: Federal and state laws guarantee certain rights to nursing home residents. It can be abuse when someone violates a resident’s basic rights. Every long-term care facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding or certification must comply with the guaranteed rights requirement with regard to every resident, not just those who get Medicare or Medicaid benefits.
- Neglect: If the staff members purposely withhold food, hydration, or medication, leave a person lying in their own waste, or do not follow the protocols for preventing bed sores, this is neglect. Neglect is another type of abuse.
Who Commits Nursing Home Abuse
You might think of the nursing home staff as the most likely suspects in a situation of abuse, but they are not the only ones who mistreat residents. We want to make it clear that many nursing home employees provide superb care for residents, but some staff members do not.
Fellow residents at long-term care facilities often inflict harm on other residents. When it becomes apparent that a resident is abusive to other people living at the home, the nursing home must investigate and take appropriate action. The staff can be liable if they ignore problems, and residents suffer as a result.
Visitors of other residents sometimes engage in “crimes of opportunity” toward people who live in nursing homes. Let’s say that someone is visiting an elderly relative and sees that the loved one’s roommate has left cash out in open view. The roommate is not in the room at the time.
The visitor pockets the cash on her way out of the room at the end of her visit. This is theft and financial abuse.
Relatives, friends, and people in a position of trust commit a large portion of the abuse of the elderly, particularly financial abuse. An adult child of the resident with the power of attorney to manage the resident’s financial affairs might divert some of the assets to himself. A broker who handles the resident’s investments might help himself to more than the agreed-upon amount of management fees. A trusted neighbor who does the shopping might buy herself a few things using the resident’s credit card.
Warning Signs of Abuse
Nursing home residents do not always report instances of abuse. They might be in fear of retaliation for telling, be ashamed, or simply not know what to do. If your loved one lives in a long-term care facility, you need to know the red flags that can indicate a problem. Different types of abuse have different warning signs.
Depending on the facts of the situation, you might have several options. You might look into the circumstances, talk with the nursing home administrators, obtain medical treatment for your loved one, contact law enforcement, or speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer in Jacksonville Beach, FL. You should do what makes sense in the individual case.
Indicators of possible abuse include:
- Unexplained or repeated injuries, bruises, scrapes, cuts, burns, scratches, fractures, or sprains in cases of possible physical abuse.
- Missing credit cards, debit cards, checkbooks, wallet, cash, or items from the room can be signs of financial abuse, as well as unusually high credit card balances, lower than expected bank or investment account balances, unpaid bills, or unusual worry about money.
- Changes in your loved one’s emotions or moods, like anxiety, depression, fearfulness, anger, evasiveness, or shame can indicate emotional abuse or basic rights violations.
- If your loved one develops a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection or has an injury in the genital area, there might be sexual abuse.
What You Can Recover for Your Loved One’s Abuse
Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for any of the following:
- Medical bills
- Counseling costs
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
How to Get Help from a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Jacksonville Beach, FL
If you suspect that someone is mistreating your loved one who lives in a long-term care facility, you do not have to face the situation alone. At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, our injury lawyers go the extra mile for our clients. Call us today at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.