The Reality of Nursing Home Abuse: How to Protect Your Loved One

by Rosemarie Hardison
the reality of nursing home abuse

When the time comes to place your loved pens into a retirement home, you expect them to be taken care of humanely and compassionately. While this is the case for most reputable care homes, there have been instances popping up nationwide that show an alarming rate of abuse and a severe miscarriage of duty occurring in such settings.

Not only is this distressing for those on the receiving end of the abuse, but it can also be emotionally draining for friends and family who chose to enter them into the home, to begin with. Feelings of guilt well up over the fact that you might have made an extra effort to convince them that they would be safe and well looked after. This is not to mention the terrible anguish they may have faced at the hands of their abusers.

While most cases tend to fall into the emotional side of the spectrum, there are other slightly rarer instances where this has transgressed into physical harm. Regardless of whether it is physical or mental, any form of abuse is utterly unacceptable and could be cause for pursuing a legal case against the institution.

This post will examine your options regarding this topic and should proffer a few ideas that you could follow to gain restitution and hopefully put the entire sordid affair behind you so that you can focus on helping your loved one regain their confidence and happiness.

Seek Legal Advice

When you first discover what is happening, seeking professional legal advice is probably the most efficient use of your time. According to this Palm Beach Gardens nursing home abuse attorney, nursing home abuse can come in many forms, from errors with medication (negligence) to financial exploitation. If you find out that a family member has been abused in a nursing home, it’s imperative to get legal advice immediately.

An experienced elder care attorney can help ensure the safety of your loved one and make sure those responsible are held accountable. They’ll investigate what happened by speaking with staff, reviewing records and inspection reports, and determining if the abuse was negligence or intentional harm.

Furthermore, your lawyer will be able to offer quick solutions such as finding alternative living arrangements for them or medical assistance if needed. With their expertise, they’ll be able to maneuver through often complicated systems swiftly and effectively so justice is served quickly for you and your family member.

Recognize Warning Signs Of Abuse

Before you jump directly into legal action, it may be prudent to take some time to understand the warning signs. This will ensure that you avoid falsely accusing a facility and causing aggravation and undue stress for your relative. Some key indicators to keep an eye for include:

  • Unexplained injuries like bruises, cuts, bed sores, or broken bones
  • Sudden changes in behavior like increased fear, anxiety, aggression, or depression
  • Significant unexplained weight loss
  • Poor hygiene, dirty clothing, or foul odors
  • Lack of medical aids like hearing aids, dentures, or glasses
  • Overly medicated or under medicated
  • Isolated from other residents and family
  • Fear or hesitation to be around the specific staff
  • Missing belongings or money
  • Reluctance to discuss care or experiences

While some signs could have other causes, multiple indicators or dramatic changes warrant investigation. It is essential to pay attention to your gut feeling if something seems wrong. Speak compassionately with your loved one and ask open-ended questions if they raise concerns. Review charts and logs for issues. Set up a camera or make unannounced visits. Report suspected abuse and seek legal counsel to address the situation appropriately. Advocacy and speaking up can help stop the mistreatment.

Choose A New Facility Carefully

If you have ascertained that abuse is occurring in the home and you are already in the process of legal action, you are also likely considering moving them to a new facility, at least in the interim. If this is the situation, taking your time rather than rushing into things is best because you feel compelled to. If your attorney has dealt with these situations before, they may also be able to provide some suggestions to expedite the process slightly.

Nonetheless, you don’t want the same to happen again, particularly if the abuse your elderly relative suffered was severe. Therefore, you need to use all the resources you can muster to ensure that you select a home that meets all your requirements and has a stellar reputation.

Document Any Concerns Or Incidents

When pursuing litigation, evidence is crucial. As such, you should endeavor to collect as much as possible that you can use to point out the manner and severity of the abuse being enacted against your family member. This might include statements from witnesses such as other staff or residents, photographs of physical abuse, or even bank statements featuring unusual transactions if money was involved. The more you collect, the higher the likelihood that you can prove mistreatment and bring a successful case against the home.

Visit Your Loved One Regularly

Perhaps the most efficient and compassionate way of protecting your loved one is by making the time to visit them regularly. It’s all too common to see families sending their elderly relatives away to a nursing home and perhaps only ever visiting them once or twice a month, if that.

Instead, you should aim to visit every weekend, and if that’s not possible, maintain contact via phone. This will enable you to stay updated on how they are doing and ensure you are aware of any issues they are facing in order to nip them in the bud before they spiral out of control.

Consider Outside Support Resources

Aside from enacting the help of a qualified law firm, there are other places you can turn to for assistance. To safeguard your loved one from potential abuse in their nursing home, there are several external resources you can turn to. These include local hotlines specifically for elder abuse, organizations dedicated to advocating for the elderly, and legal experts who have a track record with elder-abuse cases. The hotlines can guide you on what actions to take if you think any mistreatment or neglect is happening. At the same time, advocacy groups will give both emotional backing and practical help during these challenging times.

Any abuse is a harrowing experience, but it’s especially galling when you entrust your loved ones to the care of those expressly set up to care for them. If you have an inkling that those you love are facing such neglect, you have plenty of options to turn to for help.

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