It’s difficult to imagine that the nursing home staff tasked with caring for its elderly patrons would ever engage in nursing home abuse. Still, abuse is a national concern for the almost 5 percent of people older than 65 in the United States who live in assisted living facilities. Nursing home abuse happens more frequently than you might imagine and can devastate victims and their families. When you’ve entrusted a professional assisted living facility to care for a person who is no longer able to provide self-care, a nursing home injury seems like an incredibly malicious act.
Many times, the people whom nursing homes injure don’t have the ability to defend themselves or are too afraid to voice their concerns. When you visit your loved ones, therefore, watch for signs of elder abuse at assisted living facilities. If you suspect a nursing home of neglecting the duty of providing adequate care, or worse, that the staff is abusing its patrons, understand your options.
What Are Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
To recognize abuse, know the common indicators. Oftentimes, these injuries are not visible. Emotional abuse and absent or delayed care are extremely common ways in which nursing home staff abuse their elderly patients.
Nursing home abuse can manifest in both physical and emotional distress. Elder abuse at a nursing home can range from negligence and lack of attention to physical violence. Common signs to watch for include:
- Sudden changes in behavior—signs of depression, emotional withdrawal, fear of contact;
- Bruises, sores, or lacerations in areas that are typically hidden by clothing;
- Dehydration and exhaustion; and
- Rapid weight loss and signs of malnutrition or weight sudden gain.
If you notice any of these symptoms or are generally uneasy with the level of care you witness at the nursing home, first ask the at-risk person for feedback. Are they satisfied with the level of care they are receiving? Are they concerned about how the staff is treating them? Ask specific questions that require detailed answers. If you aren’t confident in the explanation you receive, or if they are unable to provide an answer, take further steps.
What Should I Do if I Suspect Elder Abuse Is Occurring at a Nursing Home?
If you have reason to believe that a nursing home is abusing or neglecting the people in its care, seek help and report your findings.
The National Council for Elder Abuse provides suggestions for dealing with abuse in a nursing home. At some point, you will want to report this abuse to the managers of the nursing home facility. Explain exactly why you are concerned and ask for help resolving the issue. Based on their response, you can decide what steps to take next.
Speak with an experienced attorney to sort through your options. An attorney might recommend that you gather evidence of suspected abuse. You can take pictures of any injuries, keep a record of notes every time you visit, and ask for an outside medical opinion. A doctor or social worker who recognizes signs of nursing home abuse has a duty to report it.
What Are My Options for Filing a Claim?
If you have reason to believe that elder abuse is occurring at an assisted living facility, you might need to file a claim against the nursing home. You have several options for doing so, and when filing a claim, you’ll want to start out by working with a nursing home abuse attorney whom you trust.
Two of the most common types of nursing home abuse claims are for negligence or wrongful death.
- A negligence claim – In many cases, you will end up filing a negligence claim again the nursing home staff or the actual facility. This claim applies to issues of neglect, emotional, and physical harm toward the nursing home patient. Neglect can include a variety of different behaviors—from lack of care and attention, isolating a patient from socializing with others, and ignoring a patient for extended periods of time. Emotional and physical abuse is other areas of negligence. The nursing home staff should always know if an employee is acting inappropriately or causing harm to the residents of the assisted care facility. If not they aren’t aware of this behavior—or worse, if they chose to ignore it—a court could view this as an act of negligence.
- A wrongful death claim – The most serious and upsetting type of cases involve a wrongful death claim. If you believe an extreme injury or case of negligence resulted in the death of someone in the care of a nursing home, your options may extend to a wrongful death lawsuit.
You have the right to file a claim against a nursing home facility if you believe it is guilty of neglect, abuse, or a wrongful death. To secure your best chance of seeking damages in a nursing home abuse suit, gather evidence. Then, hire an experienced attorney who can provide legal advice and direction, identify the most effective way to initiate these types of cases, and undertake the challenge of proving wrongdoing.
Contact a Charleston, South Carolina, Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today
If you are struggling with the realization that nursing home neglect is harming someone you love, you need experienced legal counsel to help advise you as to your options. No one deserves neglect or abuse, and it’s especially devastating when the people you have trusted to provide a safe living environment and professional care cause this mistreatment.
The lawyers at the Hughey Law Firm understand how much difficulty an elder abuse situation can cause, and we are here to advocate for your rights. Contact us today online or call (843) 881-8644 to schedule an initial consultation with a knowledgeable nursing home attorney in Charleston, South Carolina.