There is a growing population in the United States who are entering into nursing home facilities as well as other long-term care facilities. These individuals are cherished members of our families and we only want the best for them.
However, there is a systemic problem amongst these care facilities, by some accounts, nearly one in ten residents in a nursing home and other care facilities will experience some form of abuse or neglect. Any allegation of abuse or neglect should be taken very seriously, because of the devastating impact it can have not only on our loved ones but also because of the impact it can have on our families.
If you discover a problem such as elder abuse, negligent care, or other serious problems at your loved one’s nursing home, Our Rogers, AR nursing home abuse attorneys will fight to hold the responsible parties financially accountable. To discuss your nursing home concerns, calling us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.
What is Elder Abuse and Exploitation?
When we place our loved ones in nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living communities, or any long-term care facility we expect that we are putting our loved ones under the care and supervision of professionals who will take good care of our family members. However, there are startling statistics about the number of seniors living in long-term care facilities who suffer from abuse.
- Any intentional and unnecessary physical act that inflicts pain
- Any intentional act that a reasonable person would believe subjects an endangered person or an impaired person to ridicule or psychological injury
- Any intentional threat that a reasonable person would find credible and non-frivolous to inflict pain on or cause injury to an endangered person.
- Any willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment
The “Adult and Long-Term Care Facility Resident Maltreatment Act” further defines adult maltreatment as abuse, exploitation, neglect, or sexual abuse of an adult as:
- Exploitation means the illegal or unauthorized use or management of an endangered person’s or an impaired person’s funds, assets, or property.
- Use of an adult endangered person’s or an adult impaired person’s power of attorney or guardianship for the profit or advantage of one’s own self or another.
The fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of a person, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an endangered person, impaired person, or long-term care facility resident for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving the endangered person, impaired person, or long-term care facility resident of rightful access to or use of benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.
Some of the most common types of neglect and abuse are malnutrition, falls, dehydration, pressure sores, infections, burns, and assaults. Unfortunately, elder abuse is more common than you might think. Every year it is estimated that nearly 2.1 million older Americans and those in long-term care facilities are subject to nursing home abuse.
Neglecting the Elderly
Not only do family members need to be aware of abuse, but they also should be aware of neglect. This can be just as troubling as abuse in many cases and undermines the reasons why we entrust our family members to the care and supervision of a long-term care facility. Neglect per the Adult and Long-Term Care Facility Resident Maltreatment Act means an act or omission by a caregiver responsible for the care and supervision of an endangered person. Examples of neglect include:
- Failing to provide necessary treatment
- Failing to provide rehabilitation
- Failing to provide care
- Failing to provide food
- Failing to provide clothing
- Failing to provide shelter
- Failing to provide supervision
- Failing to provide medical services
- Failing to provide health reports
- Failing to carry out a prescribed treatment plan
- Failing to provide goods or services to a long-term care facility resident
If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of either abuse or neglect, there are several steps that you can take to prevent further abuse of both your loved one as well as protecting others. First, contact the administrator or Director of Nursing for the Home to complain and demand an explanation or remedy. At the same time, however, you should also make a complaint to the Office of Long Term Care (501-682-8698).
Signs of Abuse in Rogers, AR Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities
Unfortunately, many victims of nursing home abuse are unaware that they are victims. It is often up to loved ones and family members to be aware of some common signs of abuse and neglect. While some abuse is obvious and horrible, much is subtle and not readily apparent. No matter what type of abuse occurs, there are some signs and patterns that loved ones should be aware of.
When people think of abuse, they usually imagine physical abuse. With physical abuse, a family can see tangible evidence of the abuse or neglect. Some of the common signs of physical abuse are listed below
- Fractured or broken bones could be a result of being dropped, physically restrained, or battered. Older adults will often suffer fractured hips or wrists from accidental falls. Nonetheless, a physician should be able to distinguish between a fall and abuse.
- Abused elderly nursing home patients will show signs of bruises, welts, and cuts. These injuries could be caused by restraints secured around the patient’s wrists or ankles. You should examine your loved one’s joints for unexpected injuries.
- Sometimes the evidence of abuse is not on the patient’s body. If your loved one’s glasses or broken, it could be because they have been physically mistreated. If broken items are coupled with cuts or other small injuries, it could be further evidence of abuse.
- You might see a change in your loved one’s behavior. It is not uncommon for someone who is physically abused to socially retreat out of fear. They could also react suddenly to noise, movements, or are otherwise startled easily. If you see any unexpected or sudden changes in behavior, you should consider the possibility that your loved one is a victim of abuse.
Not every injury is a sign of physical abuse. However, you should investigate any injury. If you are not comfortable with the answers you receive or if the staff is being evasive, contact our Arkansas nursing home abuse attorneys.
Not all types of abuse leave physical evidence. Emotional abuse is much more challenging to detect. A victim of emotional abuse could slowly deteriorate both psychologically and physically. It is also possible that a nursing home resident is unaware that they are a victim of emotional abuse. There are some signs and symptoms of abuse that loved ones should look out for.
- A common symptom of emotional abuse is a drastic and dramatic change in behavior. For example, your loved one could unexpectedly withdraw from social events or activities they normally enjoyed. Other victims could become quick to anger or tears. Any emotional swings should be investigated.
- If your loved one appears frightened or does not want to be alone, it could signify that the staff or another resident has emotionally abused them. Another similar symptom of fear could be a noticeable lack of trust in a staff member.
- Some dramatically repetitive behaviors are an indication of emotional or mental trauma. For example, if your loved one is rocking back and forth or repeatedly tapping or hitting an object, it could be a symptom of emotional abuse.
- If your loved one has suddenly stopped taking or refuses to take their medication, it is often a signal that they have experienced psychological or emotional trauma.
As with physical injuries, many signs of emotional abuse are also symptoms of growing older. However, when multiple signs are present or if you see a pattern of behavior, it could indicate abuse. If you bring your fears to the administration’s attention and believe they are not reacting appropriately, contact our office.
Sexual abuse often results in physical signs. However, this is not always the case. Like emotional abuse, sometimes sexual abuse is not obvious.
- Any bruise around your loved one’s genitals or breasts should be investigated.
- If a nursing home resident contracts a genital infection or venereal disease, it is usually a clear indication of sexual abuse by a staff member or resident.
- In some cases, there is no physical evidence on the resident’s body. However, their clothing or underwear could show signs of tears or stains.
- Victims of sexual abuse often demonstrate behavioral changes, including withdrawing or becoming depressed.
Not all abuse is emotional or physical. Residents of nursing homes are often the victims of financial abuse. This is also difficult to discover unless you have access and oversight over all your loved one’s accounts.
- A common sign of financial abuse is unexplained expenditures. This is usually coupled with either no memory of the transaction or an unwillingness to discuss the expense.
- If you see regular monthly charges on your loved one’s accounts, such as subscription services, it could indicate that someone is taking advantage of them. Especially if you see no evidence of what the charge is for.
- Fake charitable contributions are another way people exploit nursing home residents. If you discover donations to unregistered or unknown charities, you should investigate further.
- In some cases, the facility or administration is guilty of financial abuse. Take care to ensure all medical charges are legitimate and that your loved one is not being charged for treatment or care they are not receiving. Sometimes the fraud is directed towards your loved one’s insurance company or Medicaid.
- Treat reports of missing checkbooks, credit cards, or other personal documents seriously.
- As with other types of abuse, financial abuse could result in a behavior change. If your loved one becomes secretive or relucent when discussing financial matters, it could be an indication that a staff member or other resident is taking advantage of them. In other cases, someone could just be embarrassed to have been the victim of a scam.
There are very specific warning signs to be aware of when it comes to emotional, physical, sexual, or financial abuse. However, sometimes a nursing home resident is a victim of general neglect. Usually, there are plenty of obvious signs of neglect.
- If your loved one’s appearance shifts dramatically or you notice that their body or room is unclean, it is usually a signal that they are not receiving the care they deserve.
- While similar to cleanliness, bedsores are a more direct indication of neglect – especially if the resident requires assistance in moving around or getting out of bed.
- Soiled underwear is another clear signal that your loved one is not receiving the appropriate standard of care.
- In some situations, your loved one could be experiencing severe weight loss or signs of malnutrition or dehydration. Again, these symptoms could be a sign of aging but are also indications of possible neglect.
- Chronic illness, especially if a resident’s condition is not immediately reported to a family member, could be a sign of abusive conduct on the part of the facility staff.
- Lack of proper medical care or treatment is also an indication of neglect. If injuries linger or your loved one’s condition worsens without an explanation, you should contact our Arkansas nursing home abuse attorneys.
Neglect could also be widespread throughout a facility and, in many cases, your loved one is not the only one suffering from its effects. If you notice that the facility itself is unclean or that the staff is rude or unsympathetic to the residents, it could indicate a systemic problem in the management and administration of the nursing home.
Suspect a Loved One is the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse? Contact our Arkansas Injury Lawyers for Help
If you believe your loved one has been abused or is at risk of abuse, contact Ken Kieklak. We are highly experienced in litigating nursing home abuse cases and will advocate for you and your loved ones to better your chances of receiving compensation. We litigate aggressively for our clients and don’t get paid until you do. To speak with a nursing home abuse attorney, call our law offices at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.