When we put our parents, grandparents, or loved ones in a nursing home, we expect them to receive a high standard of care and be treated with dignity. While many of these residential facilities provide excellent care for their elderly residents, there are inevitably a few that don’t.
Nursing home abuse can be intentional, unintentional, or a combination thereof. Unintentional harm can occur when an assisted living home is short or under-staffed. If there are not enough caregivers to go around, residents can have their day-to-day needs neglected.
When staff members are overstressed or overworked, it can potentially lead to intentional abuse as they can sometimes take their frustrations out on the elderly residents. We’re going to look at the statistics and signs of elder abuse and what you can do if you suspect your loved one is being abused:
Elder Abuse Statistics
The National Council on Aging (NCOA), ran a study that found that around 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some experts believe that approximately 5 million senior citizens are abused every year, and only 1 in 14 of those incidents are reported to the authorities.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report that lists several factors that can lead to elder abuse:
- Socially isolated elders.
- Victim’s dependence upon the abuser.
- Abuser’s psychological state.
- Stressful life events.
- Domestic violence in a spousal relationship.
As more and more Baby Boomers start to retire, this Silver Tsunami will result in the largest number of elderly citizens ever in America. Over the next 25 years, assisted living facilities can expect to see a massive increase in adult residents who need some form of day-to-day living assistance. This will inevitably lead to a rise in elder abuse cases.
What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse?
It can be challenging to determine if your loved one is undergoing abuse in their nursing home. Senior citizens are often unaware of the abuse, or they’re too embarrassed to speak out and tell someone. This is why it’s essential to keep your eyes and ears open to the potential signs of elder abuse:
Psychological – Psychological abuse can come in the form of verbal or physical attacks. It might also manifest itself as a side effect of financial or physical abuse. Depression, emotional distress, and sudden changes in mood could indicate psychological abuse.
Financial – Financial abuse usually happens when caregivers or the nursing home staff take advantage of the trust of the residents. Seniors who suffer from deteriorating mental health conditions are in a high-risk group of being financially taken advantage of.
Financial abuse will often go unreported because older adults will often feel ashamed or embarrassed that they allowed this to happen to them. Check the bank accounts of your loved ones regularly to ensure that someone isn’t taking advantage of them.
Physical – Some of the more common signs of physical abuse can include bruises and lacerations. If pre-existing health conditions start to decline rapidly, that could indicate the elder is not receiving proper medical care, which in and of itself is physical abuse.
Another sign of physical abuse could be the elder’s unwillingness to talk about a recent bruise or cut they received to their body. Or they might try to pass it off as “just an accident.”
Document the Abuse
If you suspect your loved ones are being abused in a nursing home, it’s crucial to gather as much evidence as possible. One of the first things you should do is start taking detailed notes on your observations.
If you notice signs of physical abuse, take a few discreet pictures with your smartphone. If your loved one has a friend or roommate, you always can try to talk to them and see if they have seen or heard anything.
North Carolina has an Adult Protective Services division set up where concerned family members can report their suspicions of elder abuse and receive help.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
Elder abuse can have long-lasting effects, which can cause severe psychological or physical harm to a person. If you suspect a friend, family member, or loved one is being or has been abused in a nursing home, give us a call at (704) 870-4779.
At the Law Offices of Thomas D. Bumgardner, we have helped countless Ballantyne family members seek justice in a court of law. We practice personal injury and family law and have a lot of compassion for our clients.
We will aggressively fight for the rights of you and your loved ones. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you get the justice that you deserve.