Hollister Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If your loved one is in a nursing home, you are probably concerned about their wellbeing. Even worse, you may suspect they are not getting the proper care and attention they need. Frustratingly, most of us cannot keep a round-the-clock, watchful eye on our loved ones. Instead, we rely heavily on nursing home caregivers to ensure they are safe.
The harsh reality is caregivers are not always trustworthy. Abuse and neglect do happen and can take many forms. Even worse, if your loved one is a victim of abuse, many times they cannot self-report their injuries.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is any “physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment resulting in harm, pain or mental suffering to an elder.” According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 people aged 60 and older who live at home experience elder abuse. From 2002 to 2016, more than 643,000 older adults were treated in the emergency department for nonfatal assaults and over 19,000 homicides occurred. Elder abuse can have several physical and emotional effects on an older adult, resulting in fear and anxiety of their caregivers or their place of residence.
While the terms abuse and neglect tend to be used interchangeably and have similar considerations, California law differentiates between the two.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
To catch early warning signs of elder abuse, maintaining a close relationship with your loved one is imperative. Monitoring their health and wellness on a consistent basis will make it easier to spot if something is wrong.
Abuse can take a physical or mental form. Physical abuse, which includes sexual abuse, is defined as “The inflication of physical pain or injury, sexual assault or molestation, or the use of physical or checmical restraints for punishment.” Mental abuse relates to infliction of fear, agitation, confusion through threats, harassment or other forms of intimidating behavior. In other words, abuse is an action taken against another person resulting in harm, pain, or mental suffering.
If your loved one is in a nursing home, keep an eye out for these signs of nursing home abuse:
- Bruises, skin tears, or broken bones or teeth;
- Unexplained STDs;
- Fear, anger or agitation;
- Defensiveness; and
- Painful reactions when touched.
It is also important to consider interactions between your loved one and their caretaker. If the caregiver does not allow your loved one to speak for themselves or expresses indifference or anger towards your loved one, this could be a sign of abuse or neglect. Other signs may be the caregiver unnecessarily restricting your loved one’s activities or putting them in isolation. You should also be on the lookout for signs that the caregiver may have substance abuse or gambling problems.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
The thought of your loved one facing issues of neglect is heartbreaking. However, knowing the warning signs will give you peace of mind that even from afar, you can help keep your loved one safe. Neglect is a person’s failure to act and is defined as “A caregiver giver’s failure to assist in an elder person’s personal hygiene, failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, or protect an elder from health and safety hazards.” If a loved one’s injury was preventable, neglect may have occurred.
There are a variety of types of neglect, including medical neglect, hygiene neglect, social/emotional neglect, and neglect of basic living needs.
Examples of medical or hygiene neglect include:
- Failing to regularly change soiled clothes or bedding,
- Not bathing or checking in on a loved one,
- Improper medical care or failing to report illnesses,
- Failing to administer medications, and
- Not reporting signs of illness or infection.
Social and emotional neglect occurs when loved ones are isolated or not provided with mobility assistance devices that give them freedom of mobility. Social interaction is vital for all of us to thrive and it is especially important for a loved one living in a nursing home.
Neglect of basic needs happens when the nursing home staff fail to keep your loved one safe and healthy. For example, failing to keep their room at a proper temperature, not cleaning common areas or your loved one’s room, or failing to provide them with adequate food and water can constitute neglect.
As with abuse, it is important to consider the behavior of your loved one’s caregiver. Signs that an employee is committing elder neglect may present as a general negative attitude toward caregiving, failing to provide proper medication doses, or ignoring side effects.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect
Seek Medical Attention and Document Your Concerns
If your loved one has been injured, getting them medical attention is the first and foremost step to take. While it is common for an elder to slip and fall or bruise more easily than you might, it is never safe to assume an injury is not serious or that it is just a simple cut or bruise. If you see signs of abuse that cannot be explained by common injuries, be sure to document your concerns. Write down everything that seems relevant, including the name of the caregiver who was on shift that day. Taking pictures or videos is especially helpful.
Regularly reviewing your loved ones financial statements (in case financial abuse occurred) or making unannounced visits to your loved one’s facility could also help prevent future abuse. Visiting at various times of the day may allow you to meet several different caregivers. Getting to know the caregivers, rather than simply exchanging pleasantries, may obligate the caregiver to feel more accountable to your loved one in their relationship.
Report Nursing Home Abuse
The next step is to report your concerns. If you suspect abuse or neglect in a California nursing home, you can locate your local ombudsman’s office by calling 1-800-231-4024. You may also contact the California Attorney General’s Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Reporting Hotline at 1-888-436-3600. If you choose to file a Complaint, you may do so with the Licensing and Certification Division of the California Department of Public Health. Any person may file a complaint, not just a resident of the family.