You might think an advanced, civilized society like ours would know how to take care of its elders. In fact, there are nursing homes and other care facilities all across the nation.
Our elderly population has access to healthcare and help with daily activities they need. Right?
In most cases, they do. But the sad reality is that almost 1 in 10 elders will experience abuse in nursing homes and care facilities.
This is a sobering statistic and should not be taken lightly. How can you help?
By learning how to report nursing home abuse. Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
How to Recognize Nursing Home Abuse
First of all, in order to report nursing home abuse, you need to know what it looks like. Here are a few common signs you can be watching for.
Elderly folks are frail and can hurt themselves rather easily. Minor bumps and bruises and scrapes are common because of this. But if you notice your loved one tends to have an excessive amount of injuries someone could be abusing them.
Always ask your loved one how they received an injury, especially something more serious like a broken bone or sprain. Do they seem reluctant or hesitant to answer? For a normal injury that shouldn’t be the case.
Unfortunately, even our aging population isn’t safe from sexual abuse. Watch for signs like injuries or bruising around the breasts or genitals, stained or bloody underwear, and even unexplained STDs.
Caring for elderly folks requires a certain amount of patience. Something that not all healthcare workers might have.
It’s to be expected for caregivers to have an occasional bad day and maybe snap at the patients. But if you notice this seems to be regular behavior or if the behavior of your loved one is changing they may be being emotionally abused.
There are many activities many elderly folks can’t do on their own. They may need help bathing, changing their clothes, and in general keeping clean. That’s part of the staff’s job at a nursing home.
But, sometimes the staff doesn’t do their job well. This can lead to the elderly person having bed sores or suffering other injuries related to uncleanliness.
In some cases, it can be severe enough that living conditions are unsafe. For example, there may be faulty wiring or lack of heat in winter. The elderly person may have to put up with dirty bed clothing or perhaps even bed bugs.
Some nursing home workers, or even administrations, may financially exploit the elderly. They may convince them to change their will or do things with their money they wouldn’t otherwise do. Many elderly folks, especially those with dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment, are easy to take advantage of in this way.
In any of these cases, you may also notice the staff member is reluctant to leave you alone with the elderly person. Or the elderly person seems to be afraid or nervous around a certain staff member.
Don’t brush off these signs. It may be innocent and have to do with your loved one’s condition, but it’s far better to take it seriously. Whatever the reason for the abuse may be it needs to stop.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse
Many cases of nursing home abuse go unreported. This can be due to the resident being unable to communicate or being fearful. Or because loved ones don’t know how to report it or aren’t sure about it.
However, if you are a doctor or healthcare provider you are required by law to report nursing home abuse if you notice it. Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to do this regardless of who you are. Nursing home abuse is serious and should be taken seriously.
One great resource is the Eldercare Locator. You can call them at 800-677-1116. Not only can they help you get in contact with the right authorities, but they can also give you information on laws and regulations.
National Eldercare Abuse
Alternatively, you can visit National Eldercare Abuse online. This webpage is run by the Administration of Aging.
On the page, you can find the information necessary to report to local authorities. You can usually find the names of agencies as well as phone numbers.
The Patient’s Doctor
The patient’s primary care physician is an excellent resource. Unless, of course, you suspect the physician may be committing the abuse.
If you trust the physician, however, don’t hesitate to talk to them. They have more training to better determine if abuse is occurring. Plus, they will have access to the right authorities to report the abuse.
If the situation warrants it, don’t hesitate to call 911. Older folks tend to be in more fragile health and have more difficulty recovering from injuries.
Depending on the extent of their injuries, they may need emergency medical care. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Hiring an Attorney
Once you have reported the abuse, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney. The right steps need to be taken to ensure the safety of the elderly person as well as compensation for what has happened. A lawyer who works with nursing home abuse cases is the perfect resource for finding out about your rights and ensuring things are done properly.
Feel free to contact us today for a free case evaluation. We can help you find the right lawyer for your needs.
Don’t let your loved one suffer any longer. Now that you know how to report nursing home abuse, take action today. Report the abuse and get a good lawyer to make sure that you and your loved one get the compensation you deserve.