As our loved ones get older, it is inevitable that we may be faced with the decision to place them in a nursing home. We look to nursing homes to ensure the safety and comfort of our family members, and to treat them with the love and respect that we would ourselves hope to receive. The unfortunate truth is that many times this is not the case.
With more than 16,000 licensed nursing homes in the United States, the number of incidents involving neglect or abuse by nursing home employees is alarming. Based on a congressional report, 1 in 3 people were abused in nursing homes in a short two-year study period. The reported abuse includes frightening statistics on verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, and even neglect. Sometimes the signs of nursing home abuse are missed simply because we assume those we entrust to care for our loved ones are doing just that.
Physical abuse can include forcibly restraining a patient by using medication or using physical restraints, assault by hitting, pinching, or causing some other physical harm, and even rape. Some of the most obvious signs of physical abuse include unexplained bruising or injuries, torn or bloodied bedding or clothing, burns, and open wounds or abrasions.
Emotional abuse is a bit more difficult to notice since there may be few physical signs, but evidence of emotional abuse will in many cases manifest through behavioral changes. You may see childlike behavior, unexplained listlessness, or a sudden emotional withdrawal from friends and family members.
Neglect will be mostly identifiable by the environment your loved one is living in. Signs include poor hygiene, dirty or soiled clothing or bedding, strong odor of human waste, infections, and bedsores or pressure ulcers.
What Should I Do if I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
The first thing you need to do is talk to someone about your concerns. There are many organizations and websites such as NursingHomeAbuseCenter.org that are there to help you understand how to proceed.
The truth is, we never want to think about someone causing harm to our loved ones, and nursing home abuse is far more common than any study can show. Reporting the abuse can be a scary thing, so it is important that you find a compassionate team to help you understand what to do and what your rights are.
The team at Brown, Christie & Green has dedicated their lives to being advocates for victims of nursing home abuse. With more than 20 years of combined experience winning nursing home abuse cases, we have the knowledge and the passion it takes to hold nursing homes and their employees accountable. Contact our office today. We will provide you a confidential case evaluation completely free of charge and no obligation.