The abuse of elderly and infirm residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities has become a nationwide problem that requires vigilance on the part of both healthcare advocates and family members. With over two million Americans currently being cared for in these facilities and the country’s population continuing to age, nursing home abuse is often a function of understaffing on the part of the facilities that have been entrusted with the care of vulnerable residents. In cases of abuse, overworked and undereducated staff members may be prone to outbursts of anger or violence, and insufficient staffing can lead to residents not getting the attention and treatment that they need. Abuse can come in the forms of neglect as well as physical, emotional, financial and sexual crimes.
- Nursing Home Neglect
Neglect is a form of abandonment of the responsibility to provide care and attention to the resident. It may include malnutrition or starvation, dehydration, and failure to provide medication and needed services. Neglect may be intentional or it can be the result of lack of time or training. Signs of nursing home neglect include unwashed bedding and clothing, unchanged diapers, bedsores, and withdrawal.
- Nursing Home Physical Abuse
Nursing home residents are frequently hit, punched, slapped, kicked, burned and pushed by staff members tasked with caring for them. Physical restraints that are used for purposes other than the resident’s safety also constitutes abuse, as does over or under medication and the withholding of medical treatment. Signs of nursing home physical abuse include bruises, broken limbs, burns, sprains, and signs of restraint such as marks on wrists. Nursing home residents who have been physically abused may also become withdrawn or fearful.
- Nursing Home Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse of nursing home residents involves a number of different actions, including humiliation, intimidation, bullying, constant criticism and blaming. It can also involve the withholding of interaction, leaving the person alone, ignoring them or shunning them. Signs of nursing home emotional abuse include changes in behavior, withdrawal, and symptoms that resemble dementia such as rocking.
- Nursing Home Financial Abuse
Financial exploitation of nursing home residents is the unauthorized use of their assets, including money or other possessions. It can include outright theft, fraud, and coercion. Signs of nursing home financial abuse include the withdrawal of funds from their bank accounts and items missing from their room.
- Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Nursing home sexual abuse is forcing them to engage in or observe sexual activity against their consent. It can be perpetrated against somebody who is capable of giving consent as well as nursing home residents who are incapable because of dementia, medication or any other type of medical condition.
Nursing homes and long term care facilities have an obligation to provide appropriate care for the residents for whom they have accepted responsibility, and failure to provide that care and to protect them from abuse constitutes negligence and malpractice. The South Jersey & Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz can provide knowledgeable and compassionate legal representation on behalf of neglected and abused elderly victims.