With the Baby Boomer generation entering their final stages of life, the number of nursing home residents is higher than it has ever been before in the United States. While we expect that our elderly loved ones will be treated with care and respect while living in a nursing home facility, that is unfortunately not always the case. It is estimated that nearly ten percent of all nursing home residents are abused and neglected by their caretakers, meaning that nearly 150,000 people are subjected to torment and abuse, and even more are suspected of going unreported. Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law understands importance of knowing the signs of potential nursing home abuse and when to report your suspicions of the abuse of your loved one.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse takes place in nursing homes across the country, including here in Georgia, and it can take many forms. Nursing home abuse is typically split into physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, and the signs of each type of abuse can be different. Physical abuse is the intentional use of force against an elderly resident that causes injury, including battery, assault, and unlawful restraint. Signs of physical abuse include burns, abrasions around wrists or ankles, pain, traumatic hair or tooth loss, sprains, fractures, or dislocated joints, a history of repeated hospitalizations, and incongruent explanations for how the injury occurred.
Emotional abuse is the use of words to verbally degrade, berate, or manipulate nursing home residents. It can take many forms, such as verbal comments, humiliation, habitual blaming, intimidation, isolation, terrorizing, and ignoring the resident. Signs of emotional abuse include low self-esteem, lack of eye contact, refusal to speak openly, seeming hopeless or disturbed, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, and sudden mood swings.
Sexual abuse occurs when a nursing home resident is forced into unwanted sexual activity. This can happen while the resident is sleeping, sick, too weak to give consent, or lacks the mental capacity to do so. Nursing home sexual abuse is significantly underreported, especially if the victim lacks physical signs of trauma. Signs of sexual abuse in the nursing home include the discovery of STDs, difficulty sitting or walking, pelvic injury, bruising on the inner thighs or genital area, anal or genital pain, bleeding, or irritation, extreme agitation, withdrawal from social activity, panic attacks, and suicide attempts.
Financial abuse in nursing homes occurs less often than the other types of nursing home abuse and is defined as improperly or illegally using a nursing home resident’s funds, assets, or property. Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse from nursing home staff and administrators. Signs of financial abuse include unexplained transfers of money or assets, abrupt changes to a will or estate plan, the resident’s living conditions are below their resources, frequent checks being written to a particular caregiver, sudden changes in banking or funds, missing personal possessions, and additional names on your loved one’s bank signature card. If you suspect that any type of nursing home abuse is happening with your loved one, you should call an attorney immediately.
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Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, holds nursing home facilities accountable for claims of abuse in the Atlanta area. Call or contact the office today to schedule a free consultation of your case.