What is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Approximately 1.4 million Americans live in nursing home facilities in the United States. These facilities provide care to elderly people, people with chronic medical problems, and people with cognitive impairments that make it impossible for them to live alone. Most nursing homes (69%) are for-profit businesses. Some facilities charge up to $100,000 or more per year per resident. Typically, once a resident’s saving are exhausted, the resident will have to vacate. Some nursing homes rely on Medicaid to cover the costs of care at a drastically reduced rate.
PROFITS AHEAD OF PEOPLE
Unfortunately, nursing homes can put profits ahead of people or simply fall on hard times, just like any other business enterprise. The results can translate into inadequate staffing, inadequate training, lack of background checks, low pay, long hours, and disgruntled staff. Combine this with a population that is frail and challenging to care for and the results are predictably tragic. Recent studies suggest that approximately 24% of nursing home residents experience at least one instance of physical abuse. This figure does not include neglect, emotional abuse, or financial exploitation. According to the National Council on Aging, neglect is the most common form of elder abuse overall, increasing the risk of death by 300% due to falls, malnutrition, dehydration, and other causes. In nursing homes, abuse is not always, or even predominately, perpetuated by staff. Residents are often perpetrators, too.
SIGNS OF NURSING HOME ABUSE AND NEGLECT
- Unexplained injuries
- Overdose or underdose of medication (often characterized by blank stares)
- Poor Hygiene
- Bedrails or physical restraints
- Injuries requiring hospitalization
Emotional abuse often accompanies physical abuse. Emotionally abusive behavior includes name-calling, swearing, harassment, threats to oneself or one’s family and friends, humiliation, and confinement.
Signs of emotional abuse to watch for include:
- Strange behavior like rocking or thumb-sucking
Financial exploitation involves fraud, stolen property, or forged financial documents.
Signs of financial exploitation to look for include:
- Missing property
- Sudden or unusual financial transactions
We Must Hold Nursing Homes Responsible
It is tragic that even one elderly or disabled person would experience abuse in a nursing home facility. Disgracefully, abuse affects tens of thousands of nursing home residents every year. Our society would explode with outrage if children suffered this level of abuse and neglect. Why should we accept it when it happens to the elderly and disabled?
Nursing homes have a responsibility to provide proper care and a safe environment for their residents. When abuse happens, there are legal remedies available through numerous federal and state laws that are specifically designed to protect elderly people. General criminal statutes (against assault, battery, theft, etc.) can also apply. If you believe your loved one has suffered abuse, consult an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Do You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect with a Loved One?
CALL A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
At Shafner Law, we have recovered damages for victims of nursing home abuse in civil cases through negligence claims and breach of contract actions. In a negligence claim, your Denver personal injury attorney attempts to prove that the nursing home breached its duty of care and your loved one suffered injuries as a result. In a breach of contact action, depending on the language of the contract you signed with the facility, your attorney may be able to prove that the facility failed to provide the promised level of care.
For a free consultation, call Shafner Law at (303) 796-0555 or fill out the Case Form below.
Additional Nursing Home Abuse Resources