If you have a parent who is a resident of a nursing home, you undoubtedly worry about the level of care and compassion they are receiving at the facility. Unfortunately, there is no way to know with 100 percent certainty that the facility in which your parent is a resident is free from elder abuse and neglect. You are not powerless though. What you can do is be aware of the issue and learn how to spot the signs of elder abuse and neglect. To help you, the Annapolis elder law attorneys at Sinclair Prosser Gasior offer the following tips to help you recognize the signs that your loved one may be the victim of elder abuse and/or neglect.
How Often Does Nursing Home Abuse Happen?
You probably went to great lengths to find a facility that, for all outward appearances, takes excellent care of the residents. Should you still be worried? How common is elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes? Are there nursing homes that provide compassionate and competent care, or should you be suspicious of all nursing homes? The answers to these questions are not simple ones. Moreover, the truth about abuse and neglect in LTC facilities probably lies somewhere between the way it is reported in the news and how the nursing home industry would like the public to believe. Accurate statistics relating to elder abuse and neglect are difficult to come by because victims are often ashamed to be a victim and/or afraid of reprisals if they speak out against their abuser. Nonetheless, the following facts and figures are telling to say the least:
- Between 1999 and 2001, almost one-third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could cause harm, or that did harm elderly residents of those facilities.
- Nearly 10 percent of those homes had violations that posed a risk of serious injury or death, or that did cause deaths of elderly residents.
- More than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90 percent report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients.
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
The best thing you can do for your parent is to visit frequently, show up at unexpected times, and pay attention. If you notice any of the following signs of abuse or neglect you should investigate further. The victim of elder abuse or neglect may be able to file criminal charges against the abuser and/or may have the basis for a civil lawsuit against the abuser and/or the facility. Common signs to look for include:
- Excessive and/or unexplained physical injuries
- Bruising, particularly around wrists or ankles that may be from restraints
- Unexplained weight loss
- Change in hygiene habits
- Mood swings
- Angry outbursts with no apparent cause
- Depression or withdrawal
- Failure to take medication as prescribed
- Doctor visits cancelled or missed
- A particular dislike or avoidance of a staff member
Contact an Annapolis Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder abuse, contact an experienced Annapolis elder law attorney at Sinclair Prosser Gasior by calling (410) 573-4818 to schedule an appointment.