As Thanksgiving and other winter holidays approach, many people will be visiting friends and loved ones in nursing homes and care facilities. Unfortunately, some of the residents awaiting visits from family members may be coping with a terrible secret: Elder abuse.
According to ABC News, abuse of elderly residents may be going on at as many as one out of every three nursing facilities.
A nursing home abuse lawyer knows seniors are often afraid to speak out about abuse because they are worried about retaliation. They may also fear they are at fault or don't think they will be believed. In some cases, seniors suffering from dementia and other health problems are physically unable to speak out. This can leave vulnerable adults in a terrible position.
Those who visit seniors in nursing homes may be the best lifeline to protecting elderly people from abusive behavior. If you are making a visit this holiday season, it is imperative that you carefully observe the senior you love for any signs that something is wrong.
Elder Abuse is Common in U.S. Nursing Homes
The House Government Reform Committee's special investigations division found around 30 percent of all nursing homes within the U.S. had been cited for abuse. Around 9,000 instances of abuse occurred over a two-year period at 5,283 different facilities. The abuse was serious enough to cause actual harm or to place the resident in immediate danger of injury or death in a total of 1,601 of the abuse cases. In some particularly egregious examples, nursing home residents suffered broken bones, sexual assault and other intentionally abusive treatment.
Abuse can take the form of physical harm, such as hitting, burning, pushing or kicking. Abuse can also involve neglectful behavior, such as a senior who is not moved in bed and develops bedsores or who is not helped to eat or drink and who becomes dehydrated or malnourished.
Sexual abuse, emotional abuse and financial abuse are also common behaviors in nursing home facilities with potentially devastating results from patients.
Family members should look carefully for signs of abuse when they visit over the holidays including:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts or burn marks.
- Rope marks or lacerations around the wrists or feet suggesting the senior was bound to the bed for too long or too tightly.
- Pressure sores or bed sores.
- Broken glasses.
- Ripped or torn clothing.
- Depression, loss of interest in activities or withdrawal from the senior.
- Missing money or possessions.
- Missing underclothing.
- Unexplained weight loss, especially if it is significant.
- Signs of fear, nervousness or apprehension around any particular nursing home staff member.
- Lack of appropriate grooming.
- Unclean bed clothes or surroundings.
These are just some of many different signs that a nursing home is not fulfilling its basic obligation and providing an acceptable level of care for a senior.
When nursing home staffers fail residents by engaging in abusive or neglectful behavior, the nursing home itself can be held legally responsible for those failures. Speaking up is important so the nursing home can be held accountable and so no elderly seniors will be left without a voice to protect against abuse.
Victims of Birmingham, AL nursing home abuse should consult with a personal injury lawyer at Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC. Call 866-583-1885 today. Serving Birmingham, suburbs of Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills and surrounding locations.