Nursing Home Law
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
A nursing home is often the last option for older family members who can no longer care for themselves. Adult children want to be able to care for their older parents, but some older adults need supervised care to make sure they are safe and provided for. Unfortunately, some nursing homes are more focused on profits than residents.
If a nursing home resident is neglected or suffers physical harm, the patient and family members have the right to hold the nursing home accountable. Nursing home abuse rights can depend on state law. It is essential to consult with an older law attorney in your area to understand your rights and legal options.
Nursing home abuse involves the mistreatment of older adults in long-term care facilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adult abuse is “an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.”
All 50 states have older adult abuse prevention laws, and there are federal laws that protect older adults. Many different types of possible abuse can go on in nursing homes, including:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Physical or chemical restraints
Nursing home abuse may be much more common than you suspect. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1 in 6 older people experience some form of abuse in a community setting each year. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that as many as 2 million older adults are abused in the United States.
Nursing home abuse can be challenging to identify. Victims of abuse may not be able to communicate with loved ones or be afraid to report abuse because of fear of retaliation. Even serious injuries caused by caregivers can be reported as caused by a fall. There are signs of nursing home abuse that family members can look out for, including:
- Unexplained physical injuries
- Bedsores or pressure sores
- Sudden change in behavior
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Sudden weight loss
- Mental health changes
- Broken bones
Not all nursing home abuse is intentional. Neglect of older adult residents can cause severe harm and injury. Many nursing facilities have understaffing problems. There are simply not enough skilled nursing home employees to properly care for the number of residents. Nursing home staff members may deal with residents through over-medication, ignoring basic medical care, or using physical restraints to manage residents.
Some older adults who are victims of nursing home abuse may not report neglect because of fear of retaliation. Other residents may not be taken seriously for reporting sexual assault or financial exploitation because of Alzheimer’s or other memory problems.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, you should report it immediately. Many nursing home abuse cases go unreported, resulting in personal injury or death for nursing home patients. Contact your local adult protective services (APS) if you see warning signs of potential abuse. If you want to know about your rights and legal options for holding the assisted living facility accountable, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help.
An experienced nursing home abuse attorney understands federal and state public health laws and the rights of nursing home residents. Private nursing home facilities are often motivated by profit, and a nursing home abuse lawsuit can make them take notice. Nursing home residents have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. If a nursing home facility is committing abuse or neglect, a nursing home abuse attorney can help.