As America’s population ages, more and more elderly people are moving into these nursing homes. These facilities are supposed to provide residents with the medical care, daily assistance, and social environment that they need to live comfortably, but unfortunately, far too many residents experience neglect and abuse in these settings.
Research conducted in 2000 by the National Center on Elder Abuse revealed that almost half (44%) of more than 2,000 nursing home residents had suffered some form of abuse, and an astounding 95% had either been neglected or seen someone being neglected in their nursing home. Fourteen years later, frequent news stories about elder abuse reveal that this issue has not been resolved.
If you live in a nursing home or have a loved one who lives in one of these facilities and you have experienced or witnessed any kind of abuse, the best way to put a stop to it is to come forward and hold the caregiver who is engaging in this kind of inappropriate behavior accountable. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you take legal action against an abusive party and even recover compensation for any injuries or financial harm. If you are unsure whether you should come forward because you don’t know whether a caregiver’s behavior constitutes abuse, review the most common types of nursing home abuse below.
Neglect is the most common form of nursing home abuse and is present in more than half of all reported cases. Neglect can be either intentional or unintentional on the part of the caregiver and may involve things like failing to provide basic life necessities (food, water, medicine, etc.), failing to keep a resident’s living space clean and safe, or failure to address and treat health problems.
Physical or Sexual Abuse
Physical abuse involves non-accidental, physical force used against a resident, including hitting, kicking, pushing, shaking, slapping, pinching, and burning. Force-feeding, inappropriately using physical restraints, or using any kind of physical punishment also fall into the category of physical nursing home abuse.
Sexual abuse involves any kind of non-consensual sexual act with a nursing home resident. This could involve rape, but non-physical sexual acts can also be a form of sexual abuse. These include forcing a nursing home resident to look at pornography, watch sex acts, or undress while others watch.
Psychological abuse is not always as visible as physical abuse and neglect, but it can still be incredibly harmful to a resident’s health and mental wellbeing. Psychological abuse and manipulation may include humiliating a resident in front of other residents or caretakers, engaging in verbal insults or threats, verbal harassment, or forcing a resident into social isolation.
Sadly, unscrupulous caregivers may take advantage of a resident’s perceived vulnerability in order to misuse their money. Acts of financial exploitation in a nursing home might include identity theft, forging a resident’s signature, stealing a resident’s income checks or other sources of money, or misusing a resident’s checks or banking accounts.
All these examples of abuse aren’t just immoral, they are illegal. If a caretaker is found to be engaging in this behavior, they may face criminal charges. However, residents and their families can also file a civil lawsuit against neglectful or abusive caretakers in order to recover money for medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or misused finances. Working with a personal injury attorney who has handled nursing home abuse cases before will give you your best chance of recovering compensation.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars..