Elder mistreatment (i.e. abuse and neglect) is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm, whether or not harm is intended, to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.
How bad is the problem of elder abuse at nursing homes?
Studies have shown that older persons who live in community settings, such as nursing homes, are abused more often than older persons living in other settings. In 2000, studies conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse of more than 2,000 nursing home residents shockingly found that 44% of them had been abused, and 95% of those surveyed reported that they had been neglected or had seen others neglected. Perhaps even more compelling, those same studies found that more than 50% of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating nursing home patients.
What are signs or symptom of physical or mental abuse or neglect?
According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, the signs include:
- Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, scars, or broken bones
- Report of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly
- Broken eyeglasses or frames
- Signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists
- Caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the elder alone
- Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver behavior that you witness
- Behavior from the elder that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling
- Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
- Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores
- Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes
- Being left dirty or unbathed
- Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather
- Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards)
- Desertion of the elder at a public place
What should you do if elder abuse is suspected?
This is a problem of epidemic proportions and our elderly population deserves protection. If you suspect that a loved one might have experienced mistreatment in a nursing home, it is important to report that abuse to the proper authorities. Depending on the nature of the alleged abuse, it may be appropriate to contact local law enforcement. You may also want to contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer at Lowcountry Injury Law to discuss your situation and your legal options.
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