Signs and Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse

Learn about the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse with Dressie Law Firm.

Explore the crucial signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse with Dressie Law Firm. Learn how to identify and address these red flags for the safety of your loved ones.

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How to Identify Nursing Home Abuse?

In 2022, 1 in 6 people over 60 years old experienced abuse in community settings, particularly in nursing homes. What’s worse, most families of nursing home residents are entirely in the dark about this neglect and mistreatment, and some elderly abuse victims are oblivious to their plight.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse allows for timely intervention, preventing further harm to the victim. It also provides the legal ground to sue the nursing home for their mistreatment and negligence. Have you or your loved one been aggrieved by a nursing home? If so, worry not; Dressie Law Firm is here to help.

Our skilled and reputable lawyers can help file a nursing home abuse claim or lawsuit so you or your loved one can get justice for their maltreatment. Today, we’ll explore some of the most common signs of abuse in nursing homes. Let’s dive right in.

    What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?

    Georgia defines nursing home abuse as any act intended to cause harm to a nursing home resident. The state recognizes the following types of abuse as per OCGA § 16-5-102:

    Physical Injury/Physical Abuse

    If you notice unexplained injuries like scars and bruises on your loved one, they may be victims of physical abuse. These injuries result from the aggressor inflicting intentional bodily harm on the victim. If left unchecked, this physical abuse could persist for years and could result in incapacitation and even death.

    Emotional/Mental Abuse

    Preying on the psychological vulnerability of older people is downright evil, but surprisingly, emotional abuse is the most prevalent type of nursing home abuse. Data from WHO shows that 33.4% of residents reported some form of emotional/psychological abuse. 

    Emotional abuse involves inflicting emotional pain, anguish, and distress to another. Perpetrators do this through:

    • Intimidation

    • Verbal abuse

    • Threats

    • Isolation

    • Humiliation

    • Manipulation

    Sexual Abuse

    Non-consensual sexual contact is one of the many forms of sexual abuse in assisted living residences. Any coercion to unwanted sex or sex-related activity is sexual abuse. Other forms of this abuse include forcing residents to view pornographic material.

    Financial Abuse

    Staff members in nursing homes may take advantage of residents’ mental and physical weakness for their personal gain. Financial abuse describes the financial exploitation of elderly persons in nursing homes through:

    • Direct theft

    • Unauthorized ATM withdrawals

    • Forged signatures on checks

    • Adding signatures to credit cards

    The Prevalence of Nursing Home Abuse

    The United States is home to over 810,000 assisted living facilities, but only 4% of seniors enroll in nursing homes and a further 2% in assisted living facilities. Of the 4% of seniors in nursing homes, 15.7% reported some form of abuse. 

    Admittedly, that doesn’t seem like much, but there’s more. According to the World Health Organization:

    • 64.2% of care staff reported abusing residents in care homes and assisted living facilities

    • 33.4% of residents or their close circle reported some form of psychological abuse

    • 13.8% of residents and their proxies reported instances of financial abuse

    • Sexual abuse is the lowest reported abuse, with only 0.9% of residents reporting being victims

    • The prevalence of elder abuse in both communities and institutional facilities may have increased by 84% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

    Older adults are among the most vulnerable members of society and are at serious risk of abuse. They’re not the vibrant, bold, and confident youth they once were and cannot defend themselves. It’s not unusual for them to hide the abuse they encounter in care facilities, but you can look out for the following signs.

    Physical Signs

    The first thing to look out for is signs of physical injuries. These are hard to hide, and makeup can only do so much to conceal them. Below are some of the top warning signs of physical abuse:

    • Scars, welts, and bruising
    • Broken bones and dislocations
    • Cuts and visible bleeding
    • Burns
    • Torn and bloody clothing

      Some physical signs may not point to abuse but indicate neglect instead. They include:

      • Unexplained weight loss
      • Unexplained weight gain
      • Sunken cheeks and eyes
      • Pressure sores
      • Bed sores

      Behavioral Changes

      Sudden behavioral changes are a huge red flag that you shouldn’t overlook. They’re among the most obvious warning signs of psychological abuse and neglect. Examples of these changes are:

      • Anxiety and fear
      • Social isolation and withdrawal from other residents
      • Depression
      • Excessive submissiveness
      • Unexplained personality changes
      • Avoiding eye and physical contact
      • Withdrawal, fearfulness, or sudden changes in behavior
      • Signs of depression or anxiety

      Environmental Indicators

      The facility’s environment will speak volumes about the nursing home’s commitment to caring for residents. Look out for environmental indicators of negligence like:

      • Unsanitary living conditions
      • Inadequate nursing home staff members
      • Run-down or insufficient medical and nursing home facilities
      • Lack of safety measures and lighting
      • Lack of security fixtures and personnel

        Steps to Take if Abuse Is Suspected

        Have you or your family members been subject to abuse in a nursing home? If yes, here’s what you can do to remedy the situation:

        • Contact 911 for medical emergencies or apparent danger.

        • Take photos and videos as evidence of abuse.

        • Note down important details like the location, time, and date of the abuse.

        • File a Facility Incident Report Form and talk to the nursing home’s management or reach out to the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

        • Contact the authorities and file a police report (if necessary).

        • Consult a nursing home abuse lawyer.

        Legal Recourse and Compensation

        OCGA § 31-8-103 through § 31-8-121 lists the legal rights of residents in long-term care facilities. An elderly person in a long-term care facility has the right to:

        • Dignity and respect

        • Adequate medical care

        • Freedom from abuse and neglect

        • Visitation

        • Freedom to manage own finances or assign a representative

        • Social interaction

        Victims of elderly abuse and their family members also have the right to file a personal injury claim in case of abuse and neglect in a nursing home. The process is as follows:

        • Seek medical attention at a recognized medical facility.

        • Preserve evidence, including photographs, videos, medical records, and details about the time and location.

        • File a complaint with the administration.

        • Report the case to the Healthcare Facility Regulation Division.

        • Identify responsible parties and assess damages.

        • Consult an attorney to file an insurance claim with the facility’s insurance company.

        • File a lawsuit if negotiations fail or the claim is denied.

        The recoverable damages for nursing home abuse claims and lawsuits include:

        • Economic damage (medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses)

        • Non-economic damages (Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress)

        • Punitive damages

        • Wrongful death damages

        How a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help

        Legal assistance from a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer is your best hope for justice for your loved one’s maltreatment. An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer can help with:

        • Legal assessment and further investigation to determine the validity of your claim

        • Gathering evidence, specifically photographs, witness statements, and the necessary documentation

        • Negotiation with the insurance company for a proper settlement for injuries and losses

        • Filing a lawsuit and representing you in court

        • Protecting your rights throughout the process

        Let Us Help With Your Nursing Home Abuse Case

        Victims of elder abuse in nursing homes often feel helpless and ostracized. Fortunately, the law protects the rights of the elderly, regardless of their residence. Seeking legal recourse for elder abuse and nursing home neglect is your best bet to getting justice for your loved one. Doing so also promotes accountability and responsibility among nursing home staff members.

        Does your resident family member show signs of abuse? Contact Dressie Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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