When we entrust the physical and emotional well-being of our elderly loved ones to assisted-living facilities and nursing homes, we expect they will be diligently supervised with care, compassion, and respect. Sadly, this is not always the reality of the situation. If you have entrusted the care of an elderly loved one to a nursing home, and you now suspect he or she is being abused and/or neglected by facility personnel, is there any legal action you can take?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. If you suspect your loved one is being abused at their nursing home facility, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for nursing home negligence or abuse. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has over 20 years of experience handling nursing home abuse litigation. Our Fayetteville, AR nursing home abuse attorneys’ mission is to provide our clients with thorough, aggressive, effective legal representation to ensure that justice is upheld. We will work diligently to win fair compensation for the suffering your loved ones have endured. Call our office at (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free consultation.
Fayetteville Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is more prevalent than anyone would like to consider. According to a recent study conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, 30% of all nursing homes in the United States — more than 5,200 facilities — were involved in more than 9,000 incidents of abuse over a two-year period. According to the report, the abuse violations in a total of 1,601 cases were described as placing the residents “in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury.”
The already high rate of nursing home abuse is on the rise. The same report determined that the percentage of nursing home facilities cited for abuse violations has increased annually since 1996.
Most alarmingly of all, the American Association for Justice reports that 90% of all nursing homes in the United States have “staffing levels too low to provide adequate care.” In other words, 9 out of 10 American nursing homes provide inadequate care.
Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse in Fayetteville
It is a misconception to assume that all nursing homes and long-term care facilities provide the same standard of care for the residence. Many facilities lack the financial resources or administrative oversight to ensure that patients receive the quality of care they deserve.
When a nursing home lacks resources, oversight, or is understaffed, the chances of intentional abuse or neglect increase. In some situations, staff and administrators will deliberately take advantage of the elderly individuals in their care. However, many caregivers work hard for their patients’ welfare only to be hindered by long hours and lack of adequate resources. For example, some facilities are plagued with overworked staff, improper training, lack of supervision or oversight, and personnel and equipment shortages. Nonetheless, when a resident is harmed, the facility should be held accountable.
Warning Signs of Abuse in Fayetteville, Arkansas Nursing Homes
Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and basic neglect. Regardless of how it manifests, nursing home abuse needs to be stopped the moment it is detected.
Unfortunately, such abuse is rarely reported to the appropriate authority. In fact, the American Association for Justice reports that only 1 in 14 incidents of abuse are reported to the authorities. Therefore, you need to be aware of the warning signs to make sure that your loved ones are kept healthy and safe.
A common sign of abuse or neglect is a change in a loved one’s mood or personality. For example, a victim of nursing home abuse could become more aggressive, rude, or quiet. If you notice a significant change in your loved one’s behavior, it could be an indication that they are not receiving the level of care they need. It could also be evidence of intentional abuse. This is especially the case if their change in mood is coupled with other signs.
Anxiety and Stress
Another indication of potential abuse is a significant increase in the levels of stress and anxiety your loved one is experiencing. For instance, if you find that your loved one does not want to be left only or no longer shows an interest in activities they used to enjoy, it could be a signal that something is wrong.
An Inability or Unwillingness to Answer Questions
One of the most significant problems facing a relative who wants to advocate for the well-being of their loved one in a nursing facility is that many victims are unwilling to acknowledge that they are being abused. They might fear retaliation, feel ashamed, or not truly understand what they are experiencing. If someone is being evasive when questioned or unwilling to share information, it should send up a red flag.
Unexplained Charges or Depletion of Funds
Financial abuse also occurs in Fayetteville nursing homes. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for someone to try and gain control of and exploit an elderly adult’s finances. One method predators use is cutting off others from examining the finical accounts of a resident. Additionally, a victim could have their checking account or credit cards compromised. If there are unexplained withdraws or credit card charges, it could be an indication of financial abuse.
Restricted Visits From Family Members
A significant element that allows abuse to continue is isolation. When a resident has no contact with friends or family members, signs of abuse will go unnoticed or unreported. If a staff member or the nursing facility administration is restricting access to your loved one, it could be an indication that your loved one is in danger. Any sudden change in visiting hours or unexpected barriers to seeing a resident should be questioned and investigated.
Any unexplained injury could be a sign of nursing home abuse. If your loved one suffered an injury and the facility is unable to provide an adequate explanation of what occurred, you should be concerned. If staff members appear to have excuses or are vague in describing the circumstances surrounding an injury, your loved one could be a victim of abuse. When the injuries are in the genital areas, you should immediately discuss the situation with the authorities and an experienced Fayetteville nursing home abuse lawyer.
Unexplained Deterioration of Physical Health
Residents in nursing homes are likely to experience a slow determination of physical health – it is an unfortunate part of aging. However, if the deterioration is sudden, unexpected, or otherwise unexplained, it could be caused by abuse or neglect. For instance, your loved one could have had a sudden weight gain or loss, increased need for heavy medication, or other rapid adverse physical changes.
Poor Personal Care and Hygiene
When a resident is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it could result in poor personal hygiene. If your loved one is living in unsanitary conditions or neglects their personal care, it could be an indication of abuse. Soiled bedsheets and unclean areas could be a symptom of intentional abuse or neglect. It is also not uncommon for a victim of abuse to begin to ignore their personal care.
Unexpected Treatment or Medical Care
Some abuse in nursing homes takes the form of overbilling your loved one or conducting unnecessary medical treatments for billing purposes. If your loved one is receiving an increase in tests or doctor’s visits from unknown physicians, it could be a sign that the facility is engaging in fraudulent and abusive conduct.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Fayetteville, AR
In many cases, the actual victims of nursing home abuse are often too scared, ashamed, or ill to explain what is occurring. The responsibility to report nursing home abuse in Fayetteville typically falls on family members and friends. This usually begins with voicing your concerns to the facilities administrators and, if required, reporting the alleged abuse to local law enforcement. You should also contact a knowledgeable Fayetteville attorney who has worked extensively on elder abuse cases.
It is crucial to be proactive when looking for signs of abuse or neglect. Any indication of bruises, wounds, emotional distress, agitation, or anxiety should not be ignored. If, for some reason, you are unable to visit with your loved one, you could observe that something is out of the ordinary or wrong when speaking on the phone. Unfortunately, elder abuse in nursing facilities is all too common and ignoring even the most insignificant sign could expose your loved one to continued abuse. If you have any suspicions of neglect or abuse, you should take immediate action.
Call Our Fayetteville, AR Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you believe your loved one has been abused or is at risk of abuse, contact Ken Kieklak immediately. We are highly experienced in negotiating and litigating nursing home abuse cases, and will advocate for you and your loved ones to better your chances of receiving appropriate compensation. Our Fayetteville, AR nursing home abuse attorneys can help you recognize the signs of abuse or neglect, and work to obtain justice and compensation for you and your family. We litigate aggressively for our clients, and do not get paid until you do. To speak privately with a nursing home negligence attorney, call our law offices at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.