As your parent, grandparent, or elderly family member grows older, you must decide certain things as a family. One of the primary decisions involves who will provide long-term care services for them as they age. Maybe you and several other family members have been toying with the idea of a nursing home, but there is a sense of hesitation.
This hesitation is normal. The specific challenges that nursing homes endure have led to numerous incidents of resident abuse. Aside from nursing home abuse, the lack of proper staffing can put your family member at a greater risk of suffering from a fatal accident.
Nursing Home Abuse: A Nationwide Issue
Just over 10 years ago, famous actor Mickey Rooney made headlines as he bravely spoke of the elder abuse he endured at the hands of his stepson and his wife. Before his testimony, there were rarely any celebrities who spoke openly about the effects of elder abuse. Nursing home and caretaker abuse was a hidden health crisis that went unnoticed in the eyes of the general public.
Fortunately, nursing home abuse is taken seriously for the health crisis that it truly is. Nursing home abuse is the various acts of harm that workers of long-term care facilities commit against elderly residents. The different forms of abuse that nursing home staff members can inflict on residents are physical, mental, sexual, and financial.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
The National Council of Aging (NCOA) reports that out of every ten Americans aged 60 and above, there will be one that experiences some form of abuse. The organization estimates that nearly five million elders experience abuse each year. Unfortunately, many people do not report abuse incidents to the proper authorities. A study conducted by the NCOA reveals that only one in 24 abuse incidents get reported to law enforcement.
#1. Physical Abuse
One form of abuse that nursing home residents endure is physical abuse. This is one of the most common types of abuse that nursing home residents experience. When staff members intentionally hit, punch, kick, or in some cases, restrain residents forcefully, these are examples of physical abuse at the nursing home. Staff members can physically abuse residents out of anger or lack proper training.
The lack of proper staffing at the nursing home and the inadequate training that the remaining members possess can increase the chances of physical abuse happening to a resident. For example, a staff member can become frustrated and attempt to forcefully feed a resident their medication. The staff member has committed an act of physical abuse against the resident.
#2. Mental Abuse
One of the most heartbreaking forms of abuse that nursing home residents can endure is mental abuse. Family members cannot immediately notice the signs of mental abuse in their elderly residents. Even other nursing home staff members don't always notice the warning signs of mental abuse in nursing home residents.
Staff members can commit mental abuse when they cause residents to experience psychological distress through verbal and nonverbal cues. Some common acts of mental abuse involve verbal harassment, deliberate isolation, emotional manipulation, and intimidation.
#3. Sexual Abuse
Sadly, another common form of abuse in nursing homes is sexual abuse. Unfortunately, nursing home residents are in one of the most vulnerable positions to become sexually abused. Residents’ dependency on their staff members can make residents easy targets.
Some nursing home residents suffer from cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, to make matters worse. Unfortunately, many staff members commit sexual abuse against residents because they believe they will get away with it, especially when staff members commit these acts against residents with cognitive disorders.
#4. Financial Abuse
While all forms of nursing home abuse are heinous, one of the most heinous forms is financial abuse. Because nursing home residents sometimes have enormous sums of money in their savings and retirement pensions, staff members think of various ways to steal a resident's finances.
A common method of financial abuse involves coercing residents into transferring their powers of attorney over to the staff member. Other methods of financial exploitation involve insurance scams, real estate fraud, contractor fraud, and lottery scams. A sad fact concerning financial abuse is that the resident's family members are the main perpetrators that commit financial abuse.
Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Another form of nursing home abuse is neglect. Even though both forms of abuse are terrible, there is a specific difference between abuse and neglect within the nursing home.
Abuse is the intentional act of causing serious injury to a nursing home resident. Neglect is the intentional or unintentional act of failing to provide caretaking responsibilities to a resident.
Neglect is a more common form of abuse in nursing homes. Staff members can neglect to care for residents when they fail to provide residents with the necessities. Failing to feed or bathe residents, for example, is an example of neglect against the resident.
Consequences of Nursing Home Neglect
Staff members who neglect to properly care for residents, even by accident, can cause residents to experience severe harm. Failing to adequately provide caretaking services can lead to dehydration, bedsores, malnutrition, and bruising.
Like other forms of abuse, neglect can be difficult in some cases to detect, especially when the residents suffer from cognitive disorders like dementia. The neglect of staff members can cause residents to experience serious injuries that can be preventable, such as hip fractures and falls.
How Neglect Causes Residents Fracture Hips
As nursing home residents become older, physical injuries can become fatal. It becomes more difficult for elders to recuperate from a fall or a hip fracture. According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, nearly ten percent of 30,000 people suffer from a hip fracture in the nursing home.
Between males and females, females endure 75 percent of hip fracture accidents. Unfortunately, elders become less active as they become older. As residents become less active from being neglected, they lose the ability to protect their bones against physical injuries.
Other Causes of Hip Fractures In Nursing Homes
Staff members who fail to actively supervise nursing home residents can also cause residents to experience hip fractures and falls. Residents are most at risk of enduring hip fractures and serious falls from falling off their beds or wheelchairs. Residents may require additional devices such as bed rails to prevent them from experiencing a hip fracture or fall. Other residents may suffer from these accidents when attempting to leave their beds to use the restroom.
Risk Factors in Nursing Homes That Contribute to Hip Fractures
Many factors within a nursing home increase the chances of residents becoming injured from hip fractures, including:
- The number of medications the resident takes
- Medical conditions such as dementia (the resident can struggle to remember how to care for themselves)
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor health and nutrition (brittle bone disease can develop, causing the resident to suffer falls often)
- Trip hazards within the nursing home (cords, carpet, broken stairs, missing floorboards, puddles, etc.)
- Lack of proper supervision
- Physical abuse (violence committed by staff members and other residents)
Short-Term and Long-Term Consequences of Hip Fractures
Nursing home residents that suffer from hip fractures are in danger of suffering serious consequences. Some of the short-term consequences that residents endure are complications from surgery, broken hips, depression, and malnutrition.
Residents who suffer from hip fractures may even be required to take additional medication, leading to risk factors like lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. Sadly, some of the long-term consequences associated with hip fractures are death. The Nursing Home Abuse Center reports that one in five residents who suffer from a hip fracture die within one year of their accident.
Parties Who Can Abuse Nursing Home Residents
When your loved one has been physically, mentally, sexually, or financially abused, you and your family have the right to file a lawsuit against the nursing home for their negligence.
Unfortunately, staff members are not the only parties that can cause harm to your loved one. The neglect that staff members can exercise against residents can cause residents to inflict acts of violence on each other. When staff members fail to supervise each resident, residents are in danger of committing the same forms of abuse against other residents.
Liability for Nursing Home Neglect and Hip Fractures
Whether your loved one suffered a hip fracture from the actions of a staff member or another resident, the nursing home will be held liable for your loved one’s injuries. Nursing homes have legal responsibilities toward your loved one and all residents. This legal responsibility involves a duty of care to all residents to provide a safe environment.
Before your loved one may accept caretaking services from the nursing home, a caretaker should evaluate how likely your loved one is to fall. Once they have performed that assessment, it is the responsibility of the nursing home staff to take the necessary steps and keep your loved one safe.
Evaluations of Other Residents
In addition to your loved one's evaluation, other residents must have evaluations to assess their risks. Nursing home residents who have conditions such as dementia are at greater risk of suffering from temperamental actions.
On this occasion, nursing home staff members must actively supervise these residents and ensure that they are not a safety risk to other residents. When staff members neglect to provide this supervision, they risk the safety and health of other residents.
How Nursing Home Staff Members Can Prevent Hip Fractures and Falls
Taking the necessary steps to prevent your loved one from suffering from hip fractures or falls involves creating a plan for your loved one’s movement. If your loved one is prone to falling, the nursing home staff is legally responsible for establishing a fall care plan for your loved one.
Staff members must routinely execute that fall care plan. Some procedures that staff members can include in your loved one’s fall care plan include lowering your loved one’s bed, installing floor mats around your loved one’s bed, and installing bed alarms for your loved one if they fall.
How to Prove Nursing Home Negligence
When you decide to file a lawsuit against the nursing home for your loved one’s injuries, your counsel will be responsible for proving that the nursing home was negligent against your loved one. To prove that the nursing home was negligent against your loved one, your negligence lawyer will have to prove that the nursing home staff’s reckless actions contributed to your loved one’s hip fracture or fall.
A nursing home negligence lawyer can prove negligence using witness testimony. A medical professional like a licensed nurse or a nursing home employee can provide the necessary testimony to establish the nursing home’s fault.
Compensation For Nursing Home Negligence
When your loved one has suffered a hip fracture or fall due to the nursing home’s negligence, your loved one is entitled to different forms of compensation.
Some compensation that you can seek from a nursing home negligence lawsuit includes:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Therapy expenses
- Funeral expenses if your loved one has passed away
Contact a Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Today
Placing your loved one in the hands of other caretakers can seem overwhelming. When your loved one suffers an injury after being neglected by the same people you trusted, you deserve to hold those parties liable for your loved one’s injuries.
You need an experienced nursing home negligence attorney that can fight for the justice that your family deserves. Call our office today, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with a nursing home negligence and abuse attorney.