Many families depend on nursing homes to take good care of their loved ones when they are no longer able to take care of themselves. Families expect that their relatives will receive the best care and trust that they will be safe in the nursing home they choose.
And while many people do have good experiences and care in some outstanding assisted living facilities, dementia care facilities, etc… unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are too many times when nursing home residents are neglected or even abused.
There are so many potential types of neglect, it is difficult to list them all. But the basic forms of neglect a victim in a nursing home may experience would involve basic physical needs going unmet by the staff who was entrusted to care for the resident.
A care facility has a legal obligation to provide its residents with appropriate food and water. If family members notice that a loved one looks emaciated, dehydrated, or malnourished, it is important to investigate.
If a loved one has no appetite and refuses to eat or drink what staff members bring, there may be a medical problem, allergy, or another issue that needs to be addressed. But there should never be a time that the staff just doesn’t bring meals and water or other beverages.
A care facility is responsible to provide a building that provides protection from the cold, the heat, and inclement weather. There shouldn’t be gaping holes in the roof or the walls. Rain and wind shouldn’t be coming through the room. There shouldn’t be black mold in the building or a flood of water on the floor. The facility should be well-constructed and safe.
This is one of the most common neglect issues. Residents deserve to have baths frequently if they can’t bathe or shower themselves. Bedridden patients need to be turned every few hours to prevent bedsores. If people suffer from incontinence and have to have adult diapers or bed chucks, they should be changed often and not have to lay there developing rashes and sores.
Patients should have their medication on time and it should be the correct medication. They should receive proper medical attention if they are sick or injured. If a resident has a bedsore, the staff should be cleaning and dressing the area and if it becomes infected, the older person should have access to hospital treatment, doctors, and appropriate medications.
Sometimes staff members don’t take the time to be sure that patients are safe from harm others in the facility may cause. Patients who live in skilled care facilities, assisted living facilities, or dementia units deserve to be safe from abuse from other residents, staff members, and visitors. They also deserve to have security features to prevent those with dementia from being able to wander outside into danger.
It is unthinkable that the staff of a facility might not properly care for all of their residents. Neglect is more common than abuse. But it can be dangerous and even deadly.
Neglect means that a facility does not give appropriate care that is due to a patient or resident. There are many types of neglect and they can include not providing adequate food, water, shelter, or medical care. Sometimes, neglect is not intentional. But it is always wrong and always needs to be addressed immediately.
The number of senior adults in the US is increasing dramatically as the Baby Boomer generation moves into this age range. Many nursing homes deal with understaffing issues which can lead to difficulty providing proper care.
Sadly, the vast majority of elder abuse cases go unreported, even though most states have mandatory elder abuse reporting laws.
From the Nursing Home Abuse Center:
From the National Center for Elder Abuse
Elder abuse often goes unreported. Senior adults who are able to communicate are often afraid that if they report a staff member’s neglect or abuse the staff member may retaliate against them. Other senior adults don’t report incidents because they are physically or mentally unable to communicate to report the problems.
This is a very vulnerable population that needs to be protected. That is why it is so important to report local nursing home abuse if you become aware of it and elder neglect and abuse often requires an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to step in to make sure that injured senior adults are adequately protected and compensated for any neglect, abuse, or criminal actions.
Neglect is often unintentional due to understaffing, lack of training, or other issues. But abuse is worse. Nursing home abuse happens when someone intentionally causes harm to a resident in the facility. And it is completely inexcusable.
There are many kinds of abuse that can happen to a loved one in a care facility. All of them are harmful. All of them should be reported. Some can even be deadly.
If a staff member (or other people in the care facility) steals money or checks from a resident, this is abusive, not to mention criminal. But it is also financial abuse to try to coerce or deceive a resident into including a staff member in the person’s will or to put the staff member’s name on a bank account and give them access to a patient’s private financial accounts. Identity theft is another form of financial abuse.
If a trusted family member is not looking out for the resident and doesn’t catch unauthorized withdrawals being made from checking or savings accounts, a lot of money can be stolen this way—even someone’s entire savings.
Warning signs of financial abuse include changes in a loved one’s financial accounts, missing money, missing possessions, and sudden changes to the loved one’s will to give their assets to a staff member or another person at the facility.
If someone at the facility (a staff member, family member, visitor, or another resident) hits, punches, slaps, pushes, bruises, or otherwise physically harms a resident, this is physical abuse. Anything that causes physical pain or injury is abusive and wrong. It needs to be reported immediately, like all kinds of abuse.
Unfortunately, physical abuse can cause long-lasting physical injuries, emotional injuries, and a much greater risk of death. Care facilities have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of the residents entrusted to their care.
Warning signs of physical abuse include bruises, cuts, broken bones, recurring injuries, sudden weight loss, and fear of certain people.
Sadly, men and women can experience sexual abuse from staff members, other residents, or visitors. This is never acceptable. Women and patients with dementia are the most likely to be sexually abused.
Residents do have the right to consensual sexual activity. But some residents are not mentally or physically able to give consent and all residents deserve protection from predators and unwanted sexual contact.
Vulnerable senior adults deserve protection from every type of abuse, but they should never have to worry about physical or sexual harm in a place where they should be completely safe and well-cared for.
Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual touching (of the breasts or genitals), unwanted sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal sex), or rape. It can also include someone videoing a resident who is not clothed or forcing a resident to be naked. And sexual abuse can include forcing a resident to watch someone commit a lewd act or pornography.
Warning signs of sexual abuse include physical like bruises or bleeding around the genital area, broken pelvic bones, unexplained genital infections or new STDS, bloody or torn undergarments, or new problems with sitting or walking.
Emotional warning signs of sexual abuse include depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, sudden changes in personality, nightmares, or extreme fear of a certain person or situation.
If a staff member (or other resident or visitor) speaks to a resident in a way that causes that person to feel afraid, intimidated, threatened, or distressed, this is likely verbal abuse.
Verbal abuse includes yelling, threats, intimidation, cussing, using vulgar language, name-calling, insults, blaming, patronizing, or scolding. These are unhealthy and dysfunctional ways to communicate that erode trust and a resident’s sense of safety. It can cause long-lasting emotional and psychological harm and even a weakened immune system that can lead to infections.
Warning signs of verbal/emotional abuse include fear, worry, sudden weight loss, depression, anxiety, changes in personality, and insomnia.
Take immediate action to report any suspected neglect or abuse to the appropriate authorities. Or remove your loved one from harm and secure an injury lawyer who can help your family provide proper care for your family member.
Every care facility has liability to protect its residents from certain kinds of harm. If it can be proven that the nursing care facility allowed:
They can be held liable for any harm that comes to residents and would need to pay general damages and special damages to anyone who has a personal injury case against them.
Nursing home abuse and neglect are never acceptable. Residents shouldn’t have to worry about a lack of food or water or inadequate shelter in their building. They should never have to be afraid for their own safety or accept abuse of any kind. They should be able to trust that they will receive proper hygiene, proper medical treatment, adequate supervision, and constant safety.
We want our loved ones to enjoy their golden years in safety and good health. If someone is being neglected or abused, the resident or family members need to report the alleged neglect to authorities and may need to involve a nursing home negligence lawyer.
We have laws in the US and in South Carolina to protect senior adults and nursing home residents and to investigate any reports of abuse.
If you suspect that your loved one has suffered from nursing home neglect or abuse, don’t ignore it. You have the power to help protect your loved one by contacting:
We’ll offer you the legal support you need to ensure your loved one’s rights and will seek to secure any compensation your family deserves.