Protection For Your Loved Ones Against Nursing Home Negligence

Do you suspect that your loved one has been harmed by their nursing home? Find out what you need to know today!
There are thousands of elderly people over the age of 60 being abused or ignored in their family homes every year in the U.S. However, these numbers represent just a fraction of the actual cases that go unreported. To make matters worse, elder abuse often occurs in nursing homes and other recovery institutions. So what can you do if you suspect that your loved one is suffering while living in a long term care facility? Use the following overview to learn how to protect your elderly relative and the first steps to take toward a legal resolution.

What is Elder Abuse?

The Administration on Aging, a long-standing division of the Department of Health and Human Services, considers elder abuse to be any intentional or negligent act carried out by a professional caregiver or any other person, including family, that inevitably causes harm to an elderly adult. At the moment, there are six forms of violence that fall under the umbrella term of elder abuse:

  1. Physical molestation
  2. Sexual abuse
  3. Emotional manipulation
  4. Negligence 
  5. Financial mistreatment
  6. Abandonment

What is Elder Negligence?

It has become increasingly difficult to describe neglect largely because of the different forms that it can take. Put simply, negligence is characterized as an inability by a caregiver to meet the responsibilities and needs of the treatment of the elderly. It does not matter if the caregiver is employed, or is a family member.

Since the interests and needs of an elderly person are varied, the types of neglect can be almost as complex. Generally, neglect can take the form of denial of accommodation, food, clothes, sanitation and medical care.

Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect

Both conditions are different, so here are a few facts to bear in mind:

  • Physical abuse: occurs when you witness unexplained wounds and fractures, burns, and frequent emergency medical treatment.

  • Emotional abuse: nervous behavior, anxiety, unexpected behavioral changes, avoidance of engaging with nursing home employees or caregiver, and reluctance to see family members or friends.

  • Sexual abuse: appearance of sexually transmitted diseases, infection and/or bleeding from sexual organs.

  • Neglect: generally, it means malnutrition, restriction of essential commodities like food, water, sanitation and shelter.

  • Self-neglect: this occurs when the elderly person avoids treatment.

  • Abandonment: living environments that are unsanitary or unclean, and filthy bedding or clothing.

  • Financial exploitation: for instance, unexplained loss of assets, unexpected financial transactions, personal property loss, and unexplained adjustments in living conditions.

Who is Responsible for Negligence and Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Whether abuse or negligence happens in the environment of a nursing home, the employer may be considered accountable if one of the following factors has played a role in causing an injury to a resident or patient:

  1. Negligent recruitment of unprepared staff

  2. Lack of personnel

  3. Lack of proper preparation in the staff and equipment

  4. Infringement and violation of contractual obligations

  5. Mismanagement of prescription drugs

The institution will always be liable for its workers' bad deeds if these take place during the course and nature of the job duties. Nursing homes often employ consultants or caregivers to third parties as part of a resident's treatment. These third parties can also be responsible for a resident's harassment or negligence.

What to Do When you Suspect Elder Abuse or Neglect?

You can urgently contact the police or Adult Protective Services, whether you are a survivor or if you believe that someone you meet is a victim of violence or negligence. In order to make a report, you do not need to prove it, only suspect it. Go to the Reporting Harassment resource page of the National Center on Elder Abuse to get started.

If you are worried about possible abuse at a nursing home or assisted living facility, the long-term care ombudsman in your state will also act as a guide. To find the nearest office, contact the U.S. Administration on Aging at 800.677.1116.

You can also go to the US. Office for Victims of Crime-Elder Abuse and Mistreatment at the Department of Justice. This office was created to support victims of crime. The website also has an online forum exclusively for elderly assault victims. It provides links to several organizations that offer support to a senior after an assault or negligence incident.

Should You Trust in the Authorities?

It depends on how you want to report and deal with the abuse or neglect. The local police or responding paramedics may evacuate the victim from the site to a secure location (including another care facility if that is the case). All you need to report is a nursing home in violation of the law or an elderly abused person in urgent physical danger or compromised health. The police will conduct an inquiry and refer the report to the justice system if an offense has been committed. It also makes sense to work with a prosecutor and lawyer who have expertise in working with these types of elder neglect and abuse cases.