How to Recognize Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Published On: October 12, 2022
Categories: Personal Injury Law

How to recognize signs of nursing home abuseFederal Nursing home regulations strictly prohibit all forms of nursing home abuse. The code of federal regulations addresses the matter. The specific section is 42 CFR § 483.12. The law states that the resident has the legal right to be free from abuse, neglect, misappropriation of property, and exploitation.

This section of the regulations requires a nursing home to have policies and procedures to prevent resident abuse. The rules impose strict requirements on a nursing home to investigate and follow up on all allegations of abuse. It does not matter whether staff members believe that particular resident. They must still investigate and report any type of alleged abuse to the relevant state authorities. The problem is that victims do not bring all instances of abuse to the nursing home’s attention.

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you need to contact a nursing home abuse attorney today.

Statistics on Nursing Home Abuse

Roughly one in every ten elders report being the victim of some form of abuse in the previous year. The numbers may even be worse in a nursing home setting, where the resident is entirely dependent on the staff member for every aspect of their daily life. Nursing home abuse capture is any form of mistreatment by staff members and fellow residents in the facility.

Nursing Home Abuse Often Goes Unreported

As bad as the statistics about nursing home abuse are, the reality is far worse. Most cases of nursing home abuse will go completely unreported. The perpetrator will get away with what they did, and your loved one will suffer the effects. This is not your loved one’s fault. The realities of the situation, combined with a nursing home that is intent on covering its tracks, means that most cases of abuse will never come to light.

In many cases, your loved one may be unable to tell you themselves that they are the victims of nursing home abuse. Many nursing home residents suffer from cognitive ailments that prevent them from cogently articulating their thoughts. Many nursing home residents are entirely non-verbal. Other times, your loved one may be unable to make themselves understood. Therefore, it is incumbent upon your family to be as vigilant as possible to spot signs of nursing home abuse.

Many Do Not Believe Residents When They Report Their Abuse

Even if your loved one can make a compelling case for themselves, they may be too afraid. Their abuser has power over your family member. Often, your loved one entirely relies on the abuser for the help they need with their daily activities. They do not want to antagonize the staff member by reporting the abuse.

In some cases, your loved one may not even realize that they are the victim of abuse. They may see the behavior as usual or want to protect their abuser. Their health and the reality of their situation may skew their perception.

Your loved one may feel that no one will not believe them no matter what they say. After all, the staff member may be a respected and valued worker that the nursing home does not want to lose. Your family member may feel they are subject to a lack of respect, which means they will not be listened to.

Nursing Homes Usually Do Not Self-Report Abuse

Of course, the nursing home will likely not tell you they are mistreating your loved one. They will pretend that everything is fine, even when it is not. You will only know about abuse when you spot the signs and do your own investigating.

The family must be their first line of defense against nursing home abuse. When you visit your loved one or speak with them on the phone, you should pay close attention to any sign that something is wrong.

The Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Here are the different types of nursing home abuse:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect

The signs are different for each kind of abuse. Some types of abuse may result in marks or bruises on your loved one’s body. Others may involve damage to their psychological well-being. Finally, financial abuse will involve misappropriation of their assets or changes in their financial documents.

General Indicators of Nursing Home Abuse

The way that nursing home staff treats your loved one can be an initial indicator of abuse. While there may be some gruff staff members, a lack of manners alone is not considered abuse. However, staff treating your loved one with evident and apparent disrespect can be a sign that there is something more wrong.

Your loved one may exhibit particular signs of fear around a specific staff member. They may shake or go catatonic in the presence of a person who is abusing them. It may signify mistreatment if your loved one appears to be particularly frightened of one person. That should get you asking questions that may reveal a pattern of abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Physical Abuse

Physical abuse can involve striking your loved one or any other form of physical mistreatment.

Physical abuse may result in some of the following:

  • Unexplained bruises or marks
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Welts on the skin

Physical abuse is the most straightforward form to spot because there are usually direct signs on your loved one’s body. However, other forms of physical abuse may not involve force. For example, unlawful restraint on your loved one is another type of abuse. The most common form of this abuse is chemical restraints. The nursing home will illegally administer psychiatric drugs to chemically restrain a difficult resident that requires too much of their attention. Many families do not even know that this is illegal. Here, you should look for signs that your loved one appears out of it too often.

Signs of Nursing Home Emotional Abuse

Other types of abuse are more difficult to spot. Emotional abuse is an insidious form of mistreatment that can have physical ramifications for your loved one. The trauma from which they suffer can harm their health. However, it is difficult to know that this type of abuse is occurring, especially when you do not see or hear it. Your loved one may not even know that someone is abusing them. All that they know is that they suffer unfair and arbitrary treatment.

Emotional abuse can cause your family member to stop eating or sleeping. It can also cause them to develop a physical illness.

Abuse victims may also exhibit sudden changes in their behavior.

Some of these signs may include:

  • Unusual behavior that can resemble symptoms of dementia
  • An unexplained loss of appetite
  • Increased irritability

Signs of Nursing Home Financial Abuse

Spotting the signs of financial abuse requires particular vigilance on your family’s part. You must regularly review all statements of your loved one’s accounts. You should not hesitate to question any suspicious transactions you or your loved one do not recognize.

Here are some signs of nursing home financial abuse:

  • Intense fear whenever the family discusses financial matters
  • New powers of attorney that the family cannot explain
  • Transactions for which there is no explanation
  • A sudden change in your loved one’s spending habits
  • Someone new trying to voice input into your loved one’s financial affairs

Financial abuse is not just about money. Someone taking your family member’s possessions is another form of financial abuse. If your loved one continuously reports possessions going missing, it is another sign of financial abuse. The nursing home has a legal obligation to safeguard your loved one’s funds, and they must provide an accounting of their expenses regularly.

Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is one of the more challenging forms of exploitation and mistreatment to spot. The signs of abuse may appear on parts of your family member’s body that you do not typically see.

Here are some signs of sexual abuse that your family may notice:

  • Excessive feelings of shame and guilt
  • Sudden changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Unexplained depression
  • Bruises on their genital regions or breasts
  • An unexplained sexually transmitted disease
  • Vaginal or anal bleeding

Sexual abuse can include any type of unlawful touching or sexual conduct. For example, sexual abuse can encompass unauthorized and compromising pictures of your loved one. It can also include harassment and unwanted sexual comments.

Fellow residents also commit sexual abuse. The nursing home may still be legally liable, even though its staff members did not commit the abuse, because they have a legal obligation to protect their residents. If a resident is known to have a proclivity for sexual abuse, the nursing home must take extra precautions to protect other residents from them.

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home abuse attorneyNeglect is also a form of nursing home abuse. If your loved one appears dirty or unkempt, it can signify that the staff is neglecting them. In a nursing home setting, everything starts with proper hygiene. Pay close attention to their physical appearance. If they have not been showered or appear to have dirt on them, you can expect there to be other gaps in their necessary care. Neglect can cause severe injuries and even death. One serious injury that results from neglect is a septic shock when your loved one develops an infection that has gone untreated.

There are other signs of neglect that can have severe effects on your family member’s health.

These include:

  • Bed sores can occur when certain parts of the body have had continuous pressure on a hard surface
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Continuous and new infections

A nursing home does not have to actively mistreat your loved one to abuse them. Not paying attention to their needs can have the same effect as active physical mistreatment. In some cases, neglect can be the most dangerous abuse because it can cause long-term injury or death.

For your family, the key is that you report the abuse. Federal regulations require that nursing homes do something when someone brings abuse to their attention. The nursing home administrator must report the alleged abuse to the relevant authorities within hours. If they fail to do so, they can also face enforcement action for the failure to report, in addition to the actual abuse (assuming that the report is substantiated).

Reporting the abuse frequently is enough to stop illegal and wrongful behavior. When a nursing home knows that the family is engaged and watching it, they will take more care to ensure that no one mistreats your loved one.

If a specific staff member is committing the abuse, the nursing home may even take disciplinary action against that staff member. They are aware of the ramifications for their reputation, as well as the potential penalties that they may face. Any findings of abuse become public knowledge. In addition, repeated acts of abuse may cause the government to suspend the nursing home from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney to Protect Your Loved One and Family

If you are uncertain whether your loved one has been the victim of abuse, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. They will tell you what to be on the lookout for and what steps you should take to report the abuse. Not only can you help stop the abuse, but you can also file a lawsuit to recover financial compensation for the harm done to your loved one.

The care facility that cares for your loved one probably has a team of lawyers who protect their interests and do not represent the interests of you or your loved one. Your loved one should enjoy the same protection. A nursing home abuse attorney can give your family legal advice to help them through this challenging time and protect your loved one from mistreatment.

When in doubt, you should call a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Florida. Your family will benefit from their experience and ability to help you navigate the legal world. Many law firms offer a no-cost case review, so there is no reason not to contact one.