Thanks to modern medicine and the advancement of technology, our population is not only increasing each year but it is also increasing its longevity. The average life expectancy has multiplied in the last century, so it is to be expected the amount of nursing homes would also have to increase to accommodate our older population. In the state of Florida, we currently have close to 700 nursing homes that represent over 84,000 beds that are occupied 85% of the time. Our eldery use these homes for temporary placement during a season of rehabilitation or they use them as a permanent residence option. Either way, studies have shown an alarming rate of abuse happening in these facilities. Unfortunately, the elderly can be one of the most vulnerable demographics to manipulate, so the reports submitted only represent a fraction of the abuse. There are plenty more cases that have yet to be officially submitted for a multitude of reasons. If you or a loved one have experienced abuse or neglect in a nursing home, contact us today to develop a plan of action against this very serious crime.
What is Nursing Home Negligence?
Negligence is the failure to provide basic care for someone that has been entrusted to you. Nursing home negligence involves the failure to provide that kind of care to the elderly in a certified facility. While negligence is a form of abuse, it is not the only type of abuse that has been reported in this kind of setting.
How Do I Know My Loved One is Being Abused or Neglected?
Ideally, your loved one would be able to tell you directly. However, communication can be extremely difficult in situations like these. Possible blocks in communication can come from memory loss, cognitive struggles, or fear of retaliation from the abuser.
If you believe your loved one is being abused, you can look for these signs:
- Poor hygiene, bed sores, weight loss, despondent mood
- Emotional Abuse
- Anxiety, depression, fear, withdrawal
- Financial Abuse
- Odd purchases, stress, sudden hoarding of money/goods
- Physical Abuse
- Bruises, broken bones, burns, lack of medication, overall skin discoloration
- Sexual Abuse
- Bruising, soreness when sitting, bladder control, urinary tract infections or STIs
Is Nursing Home Abuse Common?
Yes, it is extremely common. In 2016, it was estimated that one fifth of all high-risk emergency room trips covered by Medicare were due to some kind of abuse or neglect of a nursing home resident. The biggest threat against reporting the abuse is the number of residents suffering from some stage of dementia. Studies show that around 5.1 million people have dementia. A 2010 research study reported 47% of its participants had been mistreated in a nursing home. More specifically, the National Ombudsman Reporting System showed 88.5% experienced psychological abuse, 19.7% suffered physical abuse, and 29.5% suffered from neglect. It is also worth mentioning that there were over 14,000 official complaints of abuse, neglect, or exploitation in American nursing homes in 2014.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Elderly Abuse or Neglect?
Immediately report it. A common misconception is that you have to have proof in order to report suspected abuse. That is not the case. As an individual or family surrogate decision-maker, you are strongly encouraged to speak up on behalf of your loved one and report the abuse. If you are a professional employee of a nursing home or elderly care facility, you are required to report the abuse if it happens while you are working. There can be legal repercussions if you fail to do so.
Your first step is to contact law enforcement, especially if it is an emergency situation. A medical examination may be required of the victim. If this is the case, be sure to contact the victim's guarding or point of contact in case or she needs a family surrogate decision maker present through this process.
For further support, you can contact the National Center on Elder Abuse, the Adult Protective Services, or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. All three resources provide exceptional information that can point you in the right direction to recovery for you and your loved one.
Your last step is to contact a trusted legal professional to hold the nursing home or its workers accountable for their abuse. The state of Florida has its own laws against this type of abuse, and nursing homes in our state also have specific regulations they have to abide by. Your focus and attention should be on the victim of the abuse, so let us dedicate our attention and drive to building a strong case for you in the meantime.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one have experienced nursing home abuse or negligence, contact us today for a free strategu session to see how we can help you start your claim and compassionately navigate this legal experience.