PKSD Newsletter: Identifying the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
In this month’s issue of the PKSD Newsletter, we discuss nursing home abuse and the signs that can help you identify when it has occurred to your loved one.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse accounts for a wide range of malicious behavior meant to isolate, exploit and cause harm to elderly victims.
Abuse committed against nursing home residents can come in several forms, such as:
A nursing home resident can also often suffer from neglect, which could lead to several health complications and subject him or her to an unsanitary and dangerous environment.
How to Identify Nursing Home Abuse
Each month, approximately one in 10 elderly individuals experience some form of abuse. This rate could be even higher for those living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, according to a 2016 study conducted by the World Health Organization.
Unfortunately, it may be difficult for victims of nursing home abuse to speak out against their abusers. The emotional and physical toll that abuse places on victims may scare them into silence.
Nursing home abuse victims are also often chosen because of their lack of cognitive awareness and inability to understand when they are being abused. Some residents’ poor communication skills also prevents them from identifying the abuser.
It is often left up to family members, loved ones and those who are familiar with the victim’s personality and mental or physical condition to identify the signs of nursing home abuse.
If your loved one resides in a nursing home, pay close attention for any of the following signs:
- Mood swings
- Sudden emotional outbursts or sudden depression
- Broken or fractured bones
- Bed sores
- Frequent infections
- Signs of dehydration
- Sudden reclusiveness or refusal to speak
- Refusal to take medications or eat
- Unexplained weight loss
- Poor physical appearance or hygiene
- A caregiver refuses to leave the resident alone with others
- Sudden changes in the resident’s finances or missing personal items
The effects abuse have on an elderly person can be devastating. Any act of abuse can severely decrease a victim’s quality of life and may cause an earlier death compared to those who have not suffered from abuse.
Protecting Your Loved One against Nursing Home Abuse
To avoid placing your elderly loved one in a potentially abusive and dangerous nursing home, you must take the initiative to identify any red-flags before admitting your loved one to a facility.
This can be achieved by:
Talking to Residents or Other Patients in the Facility
You should visit the nursing home or assisted living facility before placing your loved one in its care. By observing the nursing home’s current residents, you can gain an understanding of their physical and mental state.
It may also help to speak with the families of the residents to learn if they have experienced any problems with the nursing home.
Avoid Restricted Access Facilities
A nursing home should be open and receptive to the families and loved ones of its residents. You should never be restricted or prohibited from seeing or speaking to a loved one placed in nursing home facility’s care.
Meet with Key Personnel
You should familiarize yourself with the nursing home’s staff and medical professionals. This includes any nurses, aides, social workers, administers and doctors employed by or working with the nursing home.
Constant visits to a nursing home makes it clear that your loved one is cared for and has not been abandoned.
This will inform the nursing home that you have high standards and expectations of how your loved one should be treated. You should visit the nursing home during varying times to assess the quality of care throughout the day.
It is important that you carefully read every contract before signing. Many homes will hide forced arbitration agreements within the fine print of contracts, which can severely limit your loved one’s rights.
Document Your Visits
You should record in detail any concerns or problems you may encounter during visits to the nursing home. This can be used to establish evidence if you file a claim.
Trust Your Instincts
If you see anything that seems unusual or dangerous, do not hesitate to report it. You should also pay attention to the way the residents are dressed, how well they are fed, or if they have bruises or other noticeable wounds. You should also be concerned as to whether you feel the environment is safe and peaceful.
When choosing a nursing home, you should always compare it to other facilities. This will provide you with an appropriate standard to hold your chosen facility to and will help to ensure that you have not chosen a low-rated nursing home.
State survey reports provide detailed insight into the quality of state-monitored nursing homes and might help you in choosing the right one.
Help with Nursing Home Abuse Claims
Nursing homes are entrusted with the care and protection of our most vulnerable loved ones. Any act of abuse committed by a nursing home staff member or caregiver against an elderly person is one of the most devastating betrayals.
If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of abuse, you should immediately report it to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Adult Protective Services.
If your loved one is in immediate danger from his or her abuser, contact the police. Once you have contacted the proper authorities, seek legal help.
The reliable Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys at PKSD can help take legal action against the caregiver or nursing home where the abuse occurred. We can discuss the terms of your claim during a free, no obligation consultation to determine if you are able to seek legal justice.
Do not hesitate to contact us. All of our work is provided with no up-front fees, on the condition that we only get paid if we recover fair compensation for your claim.