Nursing Home Negligence
When people move to nursing homes or assisted care facilities, they expect the staff to take care of their needs. Tragically, many of these vulnerable adults face abuse and negligence while in the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility. According to some studies, one in 10 elders face some type of abuse, but the actual numbers are nearly impossible to gauge because for every reported case, there are approximately 24 unreported incidents of elder abuse.
Types of Elder Abuse
While many victims are abused by their own family members, others receive abuse at the hands of their paid caregivers in nursing homes and assisted care facilities. In both situations, elder abuse falls into a variety of categories:
- Physical Abuse: Hitting, shoving, rough handling, using restraints unnecessarily, force feeding, and administering drugs inappropriately.
- Sexual Abuse: All forms of non-consensual or coerced sexual contact or nudity.
- Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Verbal and nonverbal abuse including social isolation, humiliation, threats, intimidation, the silent treatment, and harassment.
- Neglect: Failure of providing the elder with necessities such as water, food, clean bedding, personal safety, hygiene, medical treatment, etc.
- Financial Abuse: Using the elder’s assets, taking their money, or stealing their identity.
Unfortunately, in many cases, when elders report abuse, the nursing home and even their own families don’t believe them. Often, they are ignored, particularly when they suffer from dementia or other conditions involving memory issues. In other situations, elders may not report the abuse because they are embarrassed or ashamed. To protect your loved ones, you should be aware of the signs of trouble.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
When someone is dealing with nursing home abuse or neglect, the signs vary based on the type of abuse and the specifics of the situation. With physical elder abuse, victims tend to have physical injuries that cannot be explained, such as fractures, sprains, cuts, or bruises. If sexual abuse is occurring, the elder may have unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), bruises around the breasts or genitals, stained or torn underwear, or blood on their sheets.
In situations involving psychological or emotional abuse, the signs also tend to be psychological. The elder may become withdrawn, they may exhibit signs of depression or anxiety, and they may change their behavior or seem scared when certain caretakers enter the room. Often, these elders engage in regressive behaviors such as thumb sucking or rocking, which can be misinterpreted as dementia.
If an elder is being neglected, you may see soiled linens, untreated bed sores, signs of malnutrition such as unexplained weight loss, or dehydration. With financial abuse, expect to notice changes in their bank account, calls from collection agencies, or unexplained inquiries or accounts on their credit report.
How to Report Nursing Home Negligence in Massachusetts
You may report neglect and abuse to the facility. By law, all facilities must have a process for dealing with concerns. Be aware, however, that the management may be complicit in the abuse, and you should only report the issue if you feel safe doing so and you don’t think there will be any retaliation against the resident.
Alternatively, contact the long term care ombudsman in your local area, or reach out to the Department of Public Health. The Department of Public Health will open an investigation if any laws have been broken. Beyond reporting the incident, you may also want to speak with a nursing home negligence attorney.
Getting Help for Nursing Home Neglect
At Tinti, Quinn, Grover, and Frey P.C., we represent clients in a variety of practice areas including personal injury law and wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home negligence, we can offer you a free case evaluation and help you decide what to do next. You may be entitled to compensation for your damages and suffering, and perhaps, even more importantly, speaking up can help to ensure that other people aren’t hurt by that nursing home’s staff or practices. Contact us today to learn more.