Nursing Home Law

What To Do If Your Parent Is a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse

Proper care for your older parents is important to ensure that they will have a good quality of life at the nursing facility. However, if you are worried that your family members have been subjected to mistreatment by nursing home staff or by caregivers at a long-term care facility, you’re not alone.

With a growing awareness around the issue of older adult abuse in some nursing homes, people often wonder what, if any, action is available to them. If you know an older person who has been the victim of nursing home abuse, you can get help from a nursing home abuse lawyer.

Warning Signs of Abuse to Look For

To make sure you have a legitimate claim for nursing home neglect, it’s a good idea to look for certain signs of personal injury or financial exploitation. Staff members tending to nursing home residents have been known to commit different types of abuse, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse and psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse

Physical abuse can be simpler to prove because you can look for:

  • Bedsores (also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers) and other signs of bodily pain or trauma
  • Malnutrition, dehydration, sudden weight loss, unexplained fears (absent a dementia diagnosis)
  • Broken bones, scars, cuts, bruises, and other unexplained injuries

When you’re dealing with financial exploitation, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse, signs of nursing home abuse can be a little less obvious.

If you are concerned that care providers are stealing money from your loved ones, check the property inventory and any logs maintained by the nursing home administrator. Review bank accounts and see if all the transactions are for legitimate expenses.

Sexual, emotional, and mental abuse might not be as easy to discover. Ask an older adult if they have been subjected to:

  • Long periods of isolation in solitary environments, including abandonment or abduction
  • Forced medication or overmedication (or inappropriate use of drugs)
  • Name-calling, threats, molestation, discrimination, and harassment

If the suspected abuse is happening to someone with disabilities that prevents them from understanding or speaking out about what is happening, you might need to request camera footage or ask other residents or workers at the nursing facility to see if they witnessed anything wrong.

Government Resources for Older Adult Abuse

There are multiple government organizations and agencies that you can contact to get more help:

  • Your local Adult Protective Services (APS) will always have a hotline where you can report older adult abuse.
  • Your local law enforcement authorities, including 911 (during emergencies) as well as the nearest police station that services the area in which the assisted living facility is located.
  • The long-term care ombudsman or ombudsman program in your state—they work under state agencies that go by different names, e.g., Department of Aging, Health & Disability Services, Department of Elder Affairs, and other similar monikers depending on where you live.
  • At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has some resources relating to senior abuse
  • The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) researches ways to increase national response to older adult abuse. While they don’t take reports of suspected older adult abuse, they provide useful resources on promoting older adult rights.
  • The Eldercare Locator is a service of the Administration on Aging under the U.S. Administration for Community Living. It provides trustworthy local support resources, including city government phone numbers, to older Americans who need health care, assistance, and other medical care.

Using these resources to report nursing home abuse is a great step to promoting a safer and healthier environment for senior citizens.

But if your parent has been a victim of nursing home abuse, they deserve financial compensation for their medical care and pain and suffering, and you should pursue separate legal claims.

When you report older adult abuse related to nursing home care, you can also help your family member file a lawsuit. Every state has different laws that protect senior citizens and deter abuse. The U.S. Department of Justice has a list of laws (known as statutes) for every territory in the country to help you familiarize yourself with your state’s rules.

While a government prosecutor can pursue criminal charges against a nursing home and/or its staff, your loved ones can also bring civil (private) lawsuits to recover compensation for their injuries. These lawsuits include claims for:

Depending on the circumstances of your case and the laws of your state, other private claims, such as claims for breach of contract or for intentional infliction of emotional distress, may be available.

A Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help

To keep your loved ones safe and hold assisted living facilities responsible for bad behavior, consider talking to a nursing home abuse lawyer. They can help you recover financial compensation and prevent older adult abuse from reoccurring.

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