Nursing Home Abuse and Your Elderly Loved Ones

Elder abuse is a serious problem across the country. For family members with elderly loved ones in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, it can be extremely difficult to learn that your loved one’s personal injuries could have been prevented. How do you know if you or your family member is entitled to file a claim for financial compensation?

Elder Abuse and Neglect

When nursing home abuse does occur, it is important to remember that the caregiver and/or the facility may have violated federal and state regulations when it comes to nursing home care.

What types of elder abuse exist? According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) and the Administration on Aging (AOA), there are many different forms of elder abuse, and family members and friends should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of each.

Different types of abuse frequently include the following:

  • Physical abuse: any kind of physical force that results in bodily pain, injury, or impairment.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse: verbal acts that inflict anguish, distress, or pain onto a victim.
  • Sexual abuse: any non-consensual sexual contact with an elderly person.Neglect: a caregiver’s (or facility’s) failure or refusal to fulfill its duties or obligations to an elder, often resulting in serious and life-threatening injuries.
  • Financial abuse: improper or illegal use of an elderly person’s money, property, or other assets.

How do these forms of abuse take place?

In one recent incident reported in the Wall Street Journal, a 77-year-old Bronx nursing home resident suffered fatal injuries after getting into “a physical altercation” with his aide. While the aide argues that the elderly patient hit her first, the incident looks a lot like physical abuse of an elderly person. Signs and symptoms of physical abuse often include but are not limited to: bruises, broken bones, open wounds or cuts, and sprains or dislocations. In other words, physical abuse often yields visible physical symptoms, but it can also result in an elderly person’s drastic change in emotional behavior.

What does neglect look like? While nursing home neglect may not produce the same symptoms as physical abuse, it often does have physical signs. An example is in the hypothetical case involving neglect in which an aide at a nursing home repeatedly fails to change the position of a bedridden elderly patient. As a result of the aide’s failure to perform these duties, the patient begins suffering from bedsores. Bedsores are just one sign of elder neglect. Others include but are not limited to: dehydration, malnutrition, soiled bedding, fecal and/or urine smells, and unattended or untreated health problems.

Laws and Regulations for Elder Care

Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, elderly nursing home patients have a Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights entitles them (among other rights) to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect. Specifically, 42 CFR § 483.25 requires nursing homes to provide a certain quality of care to each resident, which means making sure of the following:

  • Provide adequate number of trained staff members;
  • Have a comprehensive care plan for each resident;
  • Provide adequate supervision of residents to prevent accidents;
  • Conduct regular assessments of each resident;
  • Provide services, if necessary, for each resident to carry out activities of daily living; and
  • Take steps to ensure that patients do not develop bedsores.

Many state laws require nursing homes to meet certain standards that are similar to the Federal requirements stated above. If a nursing home fails to meet its Federal and State duties and an elderly person suffers an injury because of physical abuse or neglect, the elderly person and/or his family may be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation.

Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Federal and state laws exist to protect elderly residents from abuse and neglect. Nevertheless, the number of nursing home abuse incidents are on the rise. If you believe that your elderly loved one has sustained injuries caused by nursing home abuse or neglect, you should contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to determine your rights.

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