Nursing homes provide a valuable service to the elderly, disabled, and countless families. They give care and comfort to those who may not be able to receive it elsewhere. However, there can be a dark side to the care provided in these facilities. Nursing home abuse and neglect take away from the expectation of care, and it comes in many forms.
By definition, nursing home abuse is the willful infliction of injury, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish and can be physical, financial, emotional, and mental. Unfortunately, not all abuse is easily detected.
Know the 8 Types of Elderly Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Emotional, Psychological, and Verbal Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Financial Abuse
We’ve outlined a brief overview of these eight types of elder abuse that can occur in nursing homes and signs that they are happening.
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse accounts for nearly 30% of nursing home abuse complaints. These include:
- Using objects to inflict pain
2. Emotional, Psychological, and Verbal Abuse:
In 2020, a World Health Organization (WHO) study found that 60% of self-reported abuse cases involved verbal or emotional harm.
- Isolating the resident from family and friends
- Limiting the use of communication devices and transportation
- Limiting mentally stimulating activity
3. Sexual Abuse
Violating a resident through an unsolicited sexual capacity is considered sexual abuse. It may involve groping, nude photos, oral intercourse, full sexual intercourse, and more. A 2015 WHO study reported residents aged 79 and older were at higher risk for sexual abuse.
- Bruising, bleeding, lesions, and scratches around the genitals
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases or Infections (STDs or STIs)
- Unusual stains in a resident’s undergarments
- Inappropriate contact with staff members
4. Financial Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports nearly 60% of elder financial abuse involved a family member.
- Obtaining unauthorized and illegal use of a resident’s finances
- Forgery of documents, misuse of the power of attorney
- Stealing a resident’s personal financial documents and statements
Neglect is the failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid mental illness and physical harm and is often the result of sloppiness, lack of interest, or oversight. In their 2020 study, the WHO showed nearly 12% of residents or their families reported cases of nursing home neglect.
Some examples and signs include:
- Not providing regular baths
- Ignoring complaints
- Failing to report injuries
- Improperly administering medications
Nursing home residents generally can not live independently and need daily assistance with medical care, eating meals, and daily hygiene. If family members or staff leave a resident to care for themselves, this is considered abandonment.
Inadequate nourishment severely weakens the body. Dietary needs can change according to medication requirements and health issues. If the nursing home staff fails to monitor a resident’s dietary restrictions, it can cause malnutrition.
Signs of malnutrition include:
- Loss of muscle mass
- Dry skin
- Weight loss
- Kidney failure
Residents need adequate daily water intake to maintain bodily functions and survive. If water is withheld, it can lead to serious health conditions and ultimately death.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Infrequent urination and dark-colored urine
- Muscle fatigue
Nursing Home Abuse Facts
The CDC surveyed 2000 random nursing home residents and found that 44% stated they had suffered abuse. Ninety-five percent said they had been neglected or have witnessed neglect of other residents.
A study done by the World Health Organization in 2020 found that 66% of nursing home staff members admitted to abusing residents.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports there are over 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S., and 1 in 3 have been given citations for not meeting federal standards to help prevent harm to residents.
Across the U.S., nearly 5 million residents of nursing homes are abused yearly.
The Alabama Department of Human Resources showed an average of 706 abuse and neglect reports monthly from October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020, for the state.
How can you help?
If you suspect abuse and believe someone’s life is in danger, first call local law enforcement. If the danger is not immediate, report your suspicions to the local Adult Protective Services agency.
Using this information and intuition to recognize signs of abuse can help protect those you love, especially those who are fearful or cannot communicate effectively.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, please contact the experienced attorneys at the law office of Timberlake & League. We can help.