Nursing home abuse and neglect can come in the form of physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, failure to provide adequate food or water, failure to provide appropriate care, or failure to treat properly. Elders who are the victim of abuse can hold their caretaker or nursing home liable for the damages they suffered.
Signs and Symptoms to Watch For
If your loved one is living in a nursing home and you are concerned about their well-being, here are a few things to keep an eye on that may signal a problem.
- Weight loss: Unexplained or dramatic weight loss may be a sign of illness, or worse yet, a lack of adequate nutrition and neglect by caregivers.
- Bruises: Watch for bruises. If you notice them, ask your loved one where they came from. If they are reluctant to explain them, it might be a sign of abuse.
- Bedsores: These are one of the most common signs and symptoms of neglect. Bedsores are a type of sore or ulcer caused by a failure to move or reposition a person to reduce pressure on the area for an extended period of time. Many people see bedsores as a simple nuisance, but they can become infected and could be life threatening.
- Fear: If your family member seems overly anxious or fearful that she is doing something wrong, investigate further. If she is afraid, it may be a sign of abuse by a particular caregiver.
- Other issues to be alert for include prescription management, proper hydration, inexplicable spending (financial abuse), and cleanliness and sanitation. Protocols should be in place to keep residents safe from falls.
What should you do if you suspect abuse or neglect?
First, if you suspect abuse or neglect, ensure your loved one’s safety. You may have to be prepared to move her from the nursing home altogether. You can contact the nursing home ombudsman in your area as well to resolve problems between the resident and the nursing home. If you feel that your loved one (or another nursing home resident) is in imminent danger, do not hesitate to contact the police.
Each state has a specific time limit in which to bring an action, so if you plan to file a lawsuit, speak to an attorney who has experience with nursing home abuse cases in your area. Your lawyer will review your family member’s case, talk to the appropriate parties, and collect evidence to start building your case.
What damages can I recover for my loved one?
In a case against a nursing home, the injured party may be able to recover any medical costs involved in their recovery from the abuse or neglect, as well as past and future medical expenses. They may also be able to pursue compensation for their pain and suffering, anxiety and other mental effects, scars and any permanent disabilities. In particularly bad cases, the court may award punitive damages if the nursing home was grossly negligent, though the laws vary by state.
If you believe a caregiver at a nursing home subjected your elderly family member to neglect or abuse, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Primerus can help you find you a nursing home abuse attorney in your area.