Nursing home abuse is a serious problem facing many seniors and their families. While it may not always be easily identified, there are seven types of nursing home abuse that commonly occur today. These forms of elder abuse can have an incredible physical and emotional impact on the victims, leaving them feeling scared or ashamed to speak up about what happened to them.
People need to familiarize themselves with the types of elder maltreatment to ensure that our elderly loved ones receive the care they need and deserve while living their golden years in a nursing home. If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, it is essential to speak to a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer immediately.
Nursing home neglect occurs when a caregiver does not provide an adequate level of care to meet the needs of a nursing home resident.
- Inadequate medical attention
- Failure to provide food and water
- Inadequate staffing
Family members and advocates must keep track of any changes they notice involving their loved one’s health or treatment. Neglect can have serious physical and psychological impacts on victims and should not be taken lightly.
Emotional elder abuse often goes undetected. This type of abuse includes behavior directed at a nursing home resident intended to cause harm, fear, or intimidation through verbal attacks, humiliation, or threats. Signs of emotional abuse may include:
- Unusually withdrawn behavior
- Changes in usual mood or actions
- An unwillingness to speak about the issue
To prevent emotional abuse, it is vital for family members and loved ones to consistently monitor how their elderly loved ones are interacting with caretakers and other staff in the facility. They should note if their elderly family member exhibits any unusual changes in attitude or personality.
Physical abuse is intentional physical force directed toward an elderly nursing home resident. Physical abuse in a nursing home can take many forms: hitting, kicking, slapping, restraining, or inappropriately using medication. Even failing to provide the resident with the physical support that they need to prevent a fall can amount to physical abuse.
Family members may recognize signs of physical abuse through bruises, broken bones, scrapes, cuts, or sprains that are uncommon for the individual’s age and activity level. Family members must stay vigilant and address any suspicious activity they notice immediately.
Victims of physical abuse may be afraid to speak up. They should be protected from further harm or mistreatment and get the proper help they need as soon as possible.
Sexual assault happens all too often in nursing homes. This form of elder abuse can range from unwanted touching to sexual intercourse without consent. If your loved one has sudden, unexplained sexually transmitted infections, other physical trauma, emotional changes, or sudden irritability, they may be a victim of sexual abuse.
Family members should look for abnormal or uncomfortable interactions between their loved ones and other residents or staff, as this could be a sign of sexual abuse. If such incidents are suspected, your loved one should have support and advocacy during this difficult time.
Financial exploitation is a type of abuse that targets any individual and the handling of their money or assets. This can include anything from caregivers defrauding an elderly person of their savings to pressuring them into signing over property ownership.
Family members and advocates must watch out for large sums of money disappearing without explanation, unusual bank transactions, signed checks unfamiliar to the resident, and changes in beneficiaries or power-of-attorney. Taking quick action when signs of financial exploitation appear is the best way to ensure that victims receive legal support while preventing further damage.
Physical isolation happens in many nursing homes and can be intentional or neglectful. Seniors need to interact with others. They have the right to contact and visit with family members. They also have the right to socialize with other people in their nursing home.
This mistreatment occurs when a resident is purposely isolated or kept away from family and friends through physical restraints, locked doors, or strict visitation practices. Physical isolation at a care facility can lead to depression and feelings of helplessness. It’s essential to treat physical isolation seriously as a form of abuse.
Emotional isolation is among nursing homes’ most commonly overlooked forms of elder abuse. It involves isolating a resident from interactions with others and depriving them of activities or attentiveness that provide comfort or peace of mind.
Signs to look for may include:
- Lack of communication with friends and family
- Disengagement from socializing or being completely disconnected from meaningful relationships
- Caregivers retaliating against a resident by ignoring them
- Refusing to let family members visit or telling family members that visiting isn’t allowed
Family members need to stay attentive when visiting their relatives to determine if any abnormal behavioral patterns are present that may indicate nursing home abuse. If there are signs, it is vital to raise concerns immediately, as victims should not feel neglected or forgotten.
The nursing home must provide reasonable care
It is the responsibility of the nursing home to provide reasonable care for the residents that they serve. If a nursing home abuses a person in its care, the actions of those involved may violate Florida civil or criminal law. In addition to possible criminal charges, you may be able to bring a civil action against the nursing home and its employees for damages and emotional suffering.
All residents have a right to food and water, including adequate nutrition. They have a right to basic hygiene and medical care. Each resident has the right to be physically active as much as they are able. If a resident needs a walker or a wheelchair to improve their quality of life, they should receive it promptly. The nursing home must allow residents to take care of themselves, and they must provide the care that residents need to live comfortably with their basic needs met each day.
Causes of elder neglect in nursing homes
- Understaffing: Inadequate staffing may lead to a lack of monitoring and prevent proper care from being provided.
- Lack of training: Caregivers not given proper guidance or training can neglect important tasks such as administering medication on time, changing bed sheets daily, and ensuring proper dietary needs.
- Financial constraints: Some nursing homes are not adequately funded, causing them to cut corners, making it difficult for elderly individuals to receive the level of care they require.
- Negligent hiring: Poor background checks on staff can allow individuals with a checkered past to be hired and work around vulnerable seniors.
What are the warning signs of the different types of nursing home abuse?
The warning signs of nursing home abuse can vary depending on the facility, but some common indicators to look for include:
- Loss or lack of mobility
- Poor hygiene
- Psychological concerns
- Signs of malnutrition
- Unexplained injuries and bruises
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Abnormal mood changes
- Withdrawal from enjoyed activities
- Isolation from others
- Discrepancies between financial statements and bank accounts
How do I get help if I suspect elder abuse?
It is important to check in with your elderly family member regularly and pay attention to any sudden changes that may indicate a potential problem. If signs are noticed, it is essential to speak to them and contact a nursing home abuse lawyer immediately to get help.
Other resources your lawyer may refer you to include:
- Adult Protective Services who specialize in investigating cases related to elder abuse and neglect
- Local law enforcement if there are signs of physical harm or threats against your loved one
- The Elder Abuse Prevention Network (EAPN), which provides education about various types of mistreatment, informant consent forms, and resources for victims seeking help
Working with a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer
When you suspect elder abuse, the best way to protect your elderly loved one is by seeking legal advice and help from the qualified nursing home abuse lawyers at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys. Our attorneys have experience filing lawsuits on behalf of victims that can result in financial compensation for pain and suffering due to negligence or intentionally inflicted abuse.
We work with you and your loved one to develop a plan of action against mistreatment in the nursing home facility. We also advise you on the specific laws regarding eldercare in Florida pertinent to your case so that you are better equipped to act accordingly.
FLA. STAT § 400.022. (2023).
FLA. STAT § 825.102. (2023).