Quincy Injury Lawyer
Understanding Nursing Home Negligence & Abuse
What is elder abuse and why should you be aware of its prevalence in nursing homes? Elder abuse specifically refers to the neglect, exploitation, or harmful mistreatment of anyone who is over the age of 65. Elder abuse takes on many shapes and forms and it can entail physical violence, heavy drugging, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation, psychological abuse, restraining the person, social isolation and also the caregiver's neglect. Nursing home negligence and abuse is a serious problem that affects nursing homes nationwide and all over the world and even the finest facilities have their fare share of abuse that goes on behind closed doors. Talking with a qualified Quincy elder abuse attorney may be your best move if you suspect that your loved ones are experience neglect of any kind.
How does this abuse happen?
Elderly adults are frail, weak, emotionally and physically vulnerable. Much like a small child, many of them can no longer perform the daily functions necessary to care for themselves. As we age, it becomes increasingly difficult to feed ourselves, bathe ourselves, and even in severe cases, many elderly can no longer walk or move around. For this reason, many families struggle with the options of caring for their elderly parent on their own or placing them inside a nursing home. With busy schedules and children of our own to care for, all too often the only viable option is a nursing home.
While many of the staff at nursing homes try their best to do a good job, a percentage of facilities are overcrowded, or in an effort to cut costs they continuously struggle with staff shortages. In these cases even the nicest caregivers with the best intentions become overwhelmed and unable to properly care for all of their residents, just as a mother might have difficulty raising six children without enough help. It's nearly impossible to meet the demands of everyone in cases such as these.
Signs of Abuse or Neglect: What to Look Out For
While some facilities are understaffed, others fail to perform proper background checks on their employees, or their standards for hiring caregivers are relatively poor. When nursing homes fail to hire the highest quality, the highest educated and the highest trained staff, then the residents are prone to encountering and falling victim to a far more insidious caregiver, one that physically, sexually, or emotionally abuses the resident intentionally, and thus causing intentional harm or injuries to the elderly victim. What are the signs to look out for? They include the following:
- Sudden weight loss (signs the person isn't being properly fed);
- Poor hygiene, foul smelling odors in the room;
- Unexplained withdrawal, a change in alertness;
- Unkempt living quarters (messy, dirty room);
- Bruising, abrasions, broken bones;
- Arguments with the caregiver, tense relationships with the caregiver;
- Bruising around the breasts or genital area (signs of sexual abuse);
- Sudden change in financial status, personal belongings or cash missing from the room; and
- Unattended medical needs.
Suffering in Silence
According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, nearly two million senior citizens are believed to experience abuse in the United States each year. However, only one in five cases is ever reported. A number of elderly victims either don't have any family members to turn to that will listen, or a number of them suffer from conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia and people chalk up their stories to being figments of their imagination.
As a concerned loved one, it's absolutely critical that you look and listen. If you happen to observe any changes in behavior or personality, you should seriously question what's going on. It's important to realize that as your loved one gets older, they become more and more vulnerable to social isolation and mental impairment from dementia or Alzheimer's disease – these are two dominant factors that make a person more prone to neglect and abuse.
We have a responsibility to protect our vulnerable adults from negligent or abusive caregivers and to keep them safe from physical, emotional, or financial harm. A number of states have enacted laws that require that professionals on the front lines such as doctors and home health providers report when they suspect or personally observe neglect or abuse. Similar to a child abuse case, these reporters are also called mandated reporters, which is a step in the right direction.
Finding Appropriate Legal Help
At Flanagan & Associates we are a family oriented law firm that takes issues over nursing home neglect and abuse very seriously. We understand that your loved one is a human being who deserves to be treated with care, compassion, respect and dignity by their caregivers and nursing home. Should you suspect neglect or abuse, we urge you to
contact a Quincy personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Matters over nursing home abuse are urgent in nature and cannot be left ignored. We serve the residents of the greater South Shore area, including Quincy, Weymouth and surrounding cities.