More than 2.5 million elderly people live in licensed nursing homes and residential care facilities in the United States. With the aging of our society the number of people in these facilities will increase as will the need to protect the elderly and disabled from abuse and neglect from those placed in positions of authority over them.
The elderly and disabled in nursing homes and residential care facilities are the most vulnerable members of our society because they often suffer from chronic disease which makes them dependent on others and limits their physical and mental functioning. The nature of their dependence on others, for basic care such as food, medicine, housing, and daily living needs, often leads to underreporting of abuse and neglect for fear of retaliation or losing the care they have. The elderly and disabled in these facilities have a right to be free of abuse and neglect, and have a right to seek redress when these rights are violated.
Abuse and neglect at nursing homes and residential care facilities take many forms. Abuse and neglect is often associated with staff shortages, inadequate training of personnel and lack of proper staff supervision. Residents can be subject to intentional infliction of injury, involuntary seclusion, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, humiliation, mental anguish, and cruel physical or mental punishment, among others. Neglect, or the failure of a caregiver to meet his or her obligations to the elder patient, can take the form of failing to change incontinent residents, failing to do range of motion exercises, withholding oral or dental care, failing to properly care for wounds or giving regular baths, failing to assist residents with bathroom needs, failing to keep residents hydrated, failing to respond to requests of residents, and failing to supervise properly to avoid placing residents in dangerous situations.
Abuse and neglect can be difficult to detect because it is often hard to distinguish abuse from the effects of chronic disease found among frail residents of nursing homes and residential facilities. Warning signs that may point to abuse or neglect can be attributed to normal aging, chronic disease, or disability. It is important, therefore, for loved ones to recognize the signs of abuse or neglect, including:
Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, cuts, burns, or scars
Fractures, sprains, or dislocations
Persistent overmedication or undermedication
Signs of being restrained
Evidence of sexual abuse including bruises around breasts or genitals, unexplained venereal disease or genital infections, unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, or damaged, stained, or bloody undergarments
Sudden weight loss
Malnutrition or dehydration
Evidence of financial wrongdoing including loss of possessions, changes in bank accounts or balances, or suspicious changes to wills, powers of attorney, titles, and policies
Sudden personality or behavioral change
Unusual treatment of visitors by Staff
If you believe that your loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or residential care facility, let us help you stop the abuse and protect your loved one. Contact the Gancedo Law Firm for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Call us at 800/500-5735.