Abuse of elderly persons is a tragedy—yet it happens all too often throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond. The number of cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect has reached epidemic proportions over the past several years. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60 and over have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as five million elderly individuals who are abused each year. And according to one study, only one in 14 cases of abuse are ever reported to authorities.
Sadly, these shocking numbers are expected to increase over the coming decades as the baby boom generation ages.
Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators can include children, other family members, friends or acquaintances and spouses. Additionally, staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities are among those who can perpetrate acts of elder abuse.
When loved ones enter nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other senior care facilities, they do so under the presumption that they will receive proper, respectful and humane care. Likewise, that presumption is usually shared by loved ones who can be instrumental in securing access for their elder relatives in elder care facilities.
Yet tragically, nursing homes and elder care facilities are all too often settings for an array of acts involving elder abuse and neglect.
What defines elder abuse?
According to the National Council on Aging*, elder abuse encompasses several different types of abuse:
- Physical abuse: Inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult.
- Sexual abuse: Touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an older adult, when the older adult is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.
- Emotional abuse: Verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.
- Confinement: Restraining or isolating an older adult, other than for medical reasons.
- Passive neglect: This involves a caregiver’s failure to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter or medical care.
- Willful deprivation: Denying an older adult medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, and exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm—except when the older, competent adult has expressed a desire to go without such care.
- Financial exploitation: The misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another.
* Source: National Council on Aging. For more information, visit www.ncoa.org.
What is nursing home abuse?
In nursing homes or elder care settings, abuse and neglect implies the mistreatment or wrongful treatment of a person and can take many forms, including, but not limited to:
- Sexual assault, sexual battery and/or rape
- Unreasonable physical constraint
- Prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water
- Failure to provide adequate nutrition to meet physical needs
- Failure to assist in personal hygiene
- Failure to provide clothing or shelter
- Failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs
- Failure to protect from health and safety hazards
What are signs of nursing home abuse and neglect?
A senior suffering nursing home abuse or neglect may exhibit several tell-tale signs and symptoms:
- Bruises, welts, cuts, rashes and bed sores
- Emotional trauma, including agitation and personality changes (e.g., withdrawal, flinching, sucking, rocking)
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Falls, fractures or head injuries
- Frequent illness or delayed reporting of illness
- Behavior that is reflective of heavy medication or sedation
- Requests for isolation from others
Additionally, nursing home abuse may include verbal abuse as well, which may be the most difficult to detect. Nursing home staff may intimidate a frail senior by yelling, threatening, humiliating or ridiculing the senior. If this is happening, a senior may become especially timid, or display other signs of withdrawal.
Lastly, financial exploitation of seniors is a growing problem. In cases like these, seniors are billed by nursing homes for services they don’t receive and medications they don’t actually receive. In some cases, caregivers have even forged signatures on checks and used credit cards for purchases without consent.
What can you do if someone you love has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect?
Abuse and neglect are unacceptable in any context—and such acts must absolutely not be tolerated in nursing homes or elder care facilities. If you believe a loved one has suffered abuse while in a nursing or elder care facility, we strongly recommend contacting an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to explore your legal options. An experienced and caring nursing home attorney can carefully evaluate the facts of your case, gather all relevant evidence, counsel you on the most appropriate action, and work diligently on your behalf to fight for your rights, and obtain the compensation you and your loved one deserve.
No Cost Evaluation
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, your rights are at stake—you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you or your loved one has been forced to endure. The experienced nursing home abuse lawyers at NRS are highly knowledgeable in nursing home litigation. We fight side by side with victims to make sure they and their families receive compensation for the abuse and/or negligence that caused them harm. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you or your loved one obtain the care and compensation needed to rebuild your or their life.
In the event you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact the nursing home abuse attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.