Are you a caregiver for your aging parents or even grandparents? Caring for the elderly can be a daunting task. But at some point, you may have to determine to put your loved one into a nursing home or even additional assistance depending on the level of care they need. As much as families wish nursing home abuse didn’t exist. The statistics put elderly patients are at risk for different types of nursing home abuse and we want to help you keep your loved one safe. Putting them in a nursing facility it is often necessary for their safety and protection. However, Being in a nursing home gives them access to around the clock care and nurses to help keep them safe.
It is sad that the elderly population is subjected to elderly abuse or neglect. The statistics are very alarming and it is a growing concern as the elderly population is growing at a rapid rate due to the baby boomer generation. According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide, one (1) out of every ten (10) elderly individuals will experience some form of elder abuse at some point while being cared for in a nursing home.
Abuse is abuse regardless of the type of nursing home abuse your loved one may experience. Most families are often concerned about potential elderly abuse when picking a nursing home to care for an aging family member or friend. Even the top nursing home in your area isn’t immune to this growing concern.
Nobody wants their loved one to suffer any type of nursing home abuse. Any form of abuse whether it is mental, physical, emotional, sexual, or financial is never acceptable and your loved one needs to speak up if they suspect they are a victim of nursing home abuse.
Your loved one will likely keep quiet just like Happy Gilmore’s mom because they are afraid of getting a caregiver in trouble or cause their family to have to deal with the consequences. Many elderly patients also fail to speak up in fear of retaliation from the person caught abusing them. Abuse of any kind should never be tolerated or accepted and the caregiver responsible for the abuse should face the consequences of breaking the law.
What are the Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
Making the final decision to move your loved one into a nursing home, can be very difficult because we don’t want to subject our loved ones to any type of nursing home abuse. We wanted to share a few things that you can watch while visiting your family member or friend in a nursing home.
This type of abuse is often easy to spot. It isn’t uncommon for elderly residents to endure physical abuse. Take note when you find unexplained bruises, injuries especially if the details don’t make sense, broken bones, or possible marks on their skin.
Do keep in mind that physical abuse isn’t limited to the obvious signs of physical abuse. Elderly nursing home residents are also subjected to other forms of physical abuse. Look for signs that your loved one hasn’t been given their required medication, placed in restraints, nurses using unnecessary medications to cause them to be sleepy or in a drug-induced fog, or allowing another resident to cause physical harm.
Residents can easy targets of financial abuse as most elderly people can no longer manage their own accounts leaving it up to others to oversee it. While most cases of financial abuse is committed by someone who is close to the victim but that isn’t always the case.
If your loved one signs a power of attorney, it is important that they are choosing someone who is honest and responsible to handle their transactions with care. There can even be more than one person assigned to have the power to make financial decisions on behalf of an elderly resident. Do keep in mind that a power of attorney is a legally binding document.
Many individuals are afraid to sign a power attorney because they are afraid of losing control over their own lives. Keep in mind this is just a common misconception of granting power of attorney that gives someone total control over their health and money. There are laws in place to protect your loved one.
Financial abuse can also take place right in front of your eyes. It isn’t uncommon for your loved one to complain that the money they had hidden away is missing or they can’t find an item. So watch for signs that your loved one’s caregivers are committing financial abuse. Here is a list of things to keep an eye out for:
- Finding out that someone is cashing their without permission or authorization
- Forging their signature
- Financial Exploitation of Seniors
- Stealing or misusing an elderly resident’s money or possessions while in a nursing home
- Deceiving or coercing a resident to sign documents, such as a contract or a will. It is just another type of nursing home abuse that can be overlooked
- Improper use of guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney
Patient neglect is not necessarily a type of nursing home abuse but nursing home neglect is just as bad. Neglectful caregivers are often guilty of providing substandard care or attention to residents. Keep in mind this type of nursing home abuse does cause harm to an elderly resident.
There are four main types of nursing home neglect that you should be aware of before placing an elderly patient into the care of a nursing home.
Many family members place a loved one is a nursing home so that the patient has access to round the clock medical care. But when staff members at a nursing home fail to address or prevent medical concerns for an elderly resident. Failure to provide adequate care and attention is a form of medical neglect.
Failure to Meet Basic Human Needs
Elderly residents still need their basic needs meet just like any other human being. When a nursing home facility or caregiver, fails to meet their basic needs such as food, water, clothing, or doesn’t keep their environment safe or clean can be classified as neglect.
Keep in mind, if your loved one has dementia, it is possible that they don’t remember being provided access to food or water so it is imperative that you talk to staff members or address possible concerns with social services. It is better to speak up and find out the truth before your loved one is harmed.
Failure for the nursing home staff to neglect the basic needs and care for your loved one. The staff may fail to help your loved one change clothing, brush their teeth, comb their hair, clipping their nails, not helping them with their bathroom needs, not giving medications as prescribed by the doctor, bedsores, or other basic needs that need attention.
Not Caring for The Residents Personal Hygiene
Elderly nursing home residents are often unable to adequately care for their own personal hygiene and require assistance in order to have those needs met. Depending on the number of elderly residents in a nursing home, often times a loved ones personal hygiene is over-looked due other residents having a dire need for assistance ie someone who had a bowel movement in their pants or had an accident in their bed.
Most nursing homes only have a limited number of staff members on duty and the residents needs are sometimes overlooked. Keep in mind most places take upmost pride in caring for nursing home residents and occasionally overlook taking care of personal hygiene on a daily basis. We suggest mentioning it to the director or making a phone call to social services if you see an ongoing problem.
Elderly residents deserve to have their personal hygiene needs met too. So if your loved one complains that they don’t get a frequent bath, garments that haven’t been laundered, help with brushing their teeth, cleaning their space, or other noticeable hygiene issues, please address their concerns.
Emotional or Social Nursing Home Neglect
How do you feel when your emotional or social needs aren’t meet? Chances are you start feeling as if nobody cares for you or even knows that you exist. This can make an elderly nursing home resident become withdrawn or depressed. As I mentioned above, most elderly residents are afraid to mention any type of nursing home abuse even something as simple as being yelled at by a stressed caregiver, being left alone for several hours a day, or even have staff not converse with them.
You probably wouldn’t expect to see this on the list; however, I wanted to make you aware of it because it does happen. Your loved one is in a vulnerable situation especially if they need help with their bathroom needs. Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual touching, being coerced nudity with other residents or staff members, intercourse, having nude photos taken, or even rape.
Look for bleeding around the vagina or anus, bruises on breasts or genitals, unusual stains that resemble blood in their undergarments, or unexplained sexual diseases or infections. It is important that any evidence of sexual abuse in a nursing home is well documented. Do seek immediate treatment with your loved one’s health care provider or go to your nearest emergency room. A doctor will be able to easily confirm if any sexual abuse has occurred.
Report any sexual abuse to social services immediately. Then speak to a lawyer who specializes in this type of nursing home abuse. Nobody should have to endure any type of abuse, including the elderly.
It is hard to believe that residents in a nursing home could be a victim of malnutrition. This is the number one problem that most nursing homes run into. Elderly residents usually have a variety of nutritional needs.
Nursing homes don’t always provide meals that provide all of the essential nutrients that elderly residents need. It is important for the staff to monitor every single resident’s dietary restrictions and make changes as needed based on their specific needs.
Staff should be aware that some elderly residents may have dental problems making it difficult to eat certain types of food. Some residents may even take medications that side effects that cause nausea or vomiting so the resident may resist eating. Other residents simply have a decreased appetite or don’t care for the food that is being served.
Nursing homes often face staff shortages or personnel who lack the education to know when to intervene if a resident isn’t eating on a regular basis. It is only going to get worse in the next several years as baby boomers start needing assisted living. Speak up if you notice that your loved one shows the signs and symptoms of malnutrition.
Without access to adequate fluids, it is easy for elderly patients to quickly become dehydrated. A resident may or may not have access to drinks anytime they want it. Instead, they rely on the staff to provide them with adequate fluids throughout the day.
Dehydration can lead to serious medical problems including death. So anytime that you suspect that your loved one may be dehydrated you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room. A doctor can easily tell if they are dehydrated and give them fluids to counteract any symptoms of dehydration.
Medication errors are another huge problem in nursing homes. Most nursing homes are severely understaffed or staff doesn’t have the proper education to properly administer medication to elderly residents in a nursing home. Do check with the facility to determine who is authorized to give elderly resident medications.
This type of nursing home abuse happens on a daily basis and your loved one may suffer the consequences. Most facilities delegate this task to a registered nurse. The RN is responsible for ensuring that each resident receives the proper medication.
Depending on the staff load, it is always possible that an RN can make a mistake. Giving the wrong medication to the wrong patient can have serious consequents, including death. They also have to carefully document each transaction so that the nurse has proof of giving the resident their required medcication. Oversight or mistakes do happen and some nurses are guilty of not giving a patient their medication, hand the wrong medication to a patient, failure to give the patient the proper dosage as prescribed, or providing the wrong type of medication type entirely. It is easy to overlook a patient who has special needs (for example giving a patient who can’t swallow a pill).
It is sad that we have to be on the lookout for different types of nursing home abuse while entrusting others to provide for our loved ones. If you suspect any type of nursing home abuse, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately, such as Tampa personal injury attorney, to help you determine what course of action you should take to protect your loved one.
We also recommend that you come up with a code word with your loved one. They can use this code word to let you know that they are experiencing some type of nursing home abuse. The code word should be simple enough for them to remember. It should also be discreet so that staff isn’t aware that you know that there has been some type of nursing home abuse taking place. Once you hear the code word, then you can schedule a “date” with your loved one and take them to a safe location to talk. Elderly residents in a nursing home are often hesitant to speak up when they are being abused because they fear the repercussions involved when any type of nursing home abuse is reported.