This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.
At some point, you will have to face the fact that your senior parent needs more care than you can provide. In those situations, you need to be able to trust the professional caregivers who will tend to your elderly loved one in an assisted nursing facility.
While most caregivers have genuinely good intentions, there are some instances in which elder neglect or abuse occurs. This guide will help you identify when your senior parent has been victimized so you can take the necessary legal action.
Elder Neglect Is a Serious Concern
While elder abuse is also a concern, elder neglect is far more likely and just as devastating. Often, nursing homes are understaffed and the caregivers who are employed in the facility are overworked and fatigued. As a result, they don’t spend as much time with each resident in the facility.
For residents who can’t move on their own, this can mean they don’t get rolled from side to side to prevent bedsores from developing. Residents who don’t keep up with their medications, daily hygiene, and other necessities will also suffer.
Common signs of elder neglect include:
- Bedsores or bruises from wrist and ankle straps
- Lack of oral hygiene
- Lack of physical hygiene
- Poor living conditions, including unrepaired electrical and plumbing problems
Physical Abuse Is the Second Most Common Reason for Nursing Home Lawsuits
In the majority of cases, potential defendants in nursing home abuse lawsuits are caregivers who are overworked and extremely stressed. As such, they have short tempers and show signs of having limited patience in dealing with the residents. Abuse often starts with making intimidating or threatening statements to the residents in order to obtain their compliance. Eventually, the abusive caregiver will resort to punching, slapping, or kicking the resident to get them to comply.
For this reason, a common indication of physical abuse is a resident who cowers in the presence of the abuser, or they may avoid the caregivers as much as possible. You can also identify abuse by looking for bruises on the arms and legs of the elderly resident. If their billing notes treatment for unexplained injuries, this should also raise concerns regarding physical abuse.
Financial Abuse Can Be Committed in a Number of Ways
A growing type of abuse that’s very difficult to identify is financial abuse and, unless you meticulously review your elder parent’s finances, you may not know it’s occurring. Either an individual caregiver or the facility may be committing financial abuse. The individual caregiver usually commits financial abuse by asking the resident for money or gifts. In some cases, they may ask for the senior resident’s debit or credit card and tell them to write down the PIN and account information. If the caregiver is also abusive, the elderly resident may be fearful of refusing them.
When the facility commits financial abuse, it’s usually by charging services that haven’t been provided. They may also bill the resident for medical procedures that aren’t necessary, so it’s vital for family members to review statements and question every discrepancy.
Watch for Signs of Sexual Abuse
You can also sue for damages on your senior parent’s behalf if you find signs of sexual abuse. While this is a problem in nursing homes, it occurs rarely. It’s also difficult to identify since the most common sign is bruising of the breasts and genitals. There may also be pain, bleeding, or irritation of the genitals, but your elderly parent may be reluctant to discuss these signs. Unless you find bloodstains in their underclothes or they’re diagnosed with an STD, it can be almost impossible to establish sexual abuse.
If you suspect your senior parent is being subjected to abuse or neglect, the first thing you should do is consult a lawyer. A personal injury attorney who specializes in elder abuse can help you gather the evidence you’ll need to prove your claim. They may even be able to negotiate the settlement you need to get your elderly parent out of that situation and into a more reputable care facility.
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