The Insidious Problem of Elder Abuse by Nursing Home Caregivers

Posted On: February 24, 2017 under

The elderly are often a vulnerable population. Whether due to illness or the frailty of aging, they are more susceptible to mistreatment and abuse than younger adults. For this reason, they are expected to have special protection when they move into nursing homes or residential care facilities. The primary job of such facilities is to ensure the health, safety, and comfort of their residents. Because it is easy for the elderly to be harmed by their caregivers, it is up to nursing homes and care facilities to take steps when hiring these caregivers to be certain that they will not mistreat the residents. Unfortunately, there are homes that fail in this respect, and the result can be tragic for the residents and their families.

Contact a legal team to represent you if you suspect nursing home abuse. Recognize the insidious problem of elder abuse, and help stop this problem.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, these are the four main types of abuse to watch for: physical, emotional, financial, and sexual.

  • Physical abuse covers everything from a caregiver using violence or force to harm a nursing home resident to restraining a resident without legitimate cause. It can be easier to spot than other types of abuse as it often leaves visible marks such as bruises, lacerations, or even broken bones.
  • Emotional abuse is defined by behavior that causes emotional anguish for the resident. This type of abuse can range from isolating the resident to screaming at the resident to treating the resident like a child. Although it can be hard to spot, some indicators of emotional abuse include sudden, unexplained withdrawal and depression.
  • Financial abuse occurs when the resident’s money, property, or assets are exploited. This can be done by tricking the resident into signing documents he or she doesn’t fully understand or can’t legally consent to sign (perhaps due to dementia), or by outright stealing them. This type of abuse may be difficult to see unless you are regularly checking in on your loved one’s finances and their valuables.
  • Sexual abuse constitutes everything from sexual assault and rape to talking someone who is unable to consent to sexual activity. The signs of this type of abuse are often similar to those of emotional abuse although there may also be physical indicators.

Although it isn’t always considered to be the same as the above kinds of abuse, neglect also counts as abusive behavior. The insidious problem of elder abuse can stem from neglect. When neglect happens in nursing homes, it is often because of staffing issues and not due to cruelty on the part of the caregivers. However, it is still a serious problem because it usually means that residents’ basic needs are not being met. Their personal hygiene may be inadequate, they may not be getting enough food and water, their medications may not be properly administered, and they may develop medical issues such as infections, malnutrition, and bed sores as a result. Because many residents are unable to take full care of themselves anymore, the consequences of neglect can be as serious as those of physical abuse.

Whatever the reasons behind it, elder abuse is never acceptable. Caregivers who mistreat or harm the people that they are meant to help must be held accountable for their behavior, and nursing home residents must be protected from those who would prey on them. Being aware of the problem and watching for signs of abuse are the best ways to prevent tragedy.

If you suspect that a loved one is being abused by nursing home caregivers, consult a skilled and dedicated nursing home abuse attorney to represent your family. Learn more about the insidious problem of elder abuse, and recognize the signs.