According to the U.S. Census bureau, within the next 30 years, a full one-fifth of our population will be over the age of sixty-five. This means that there will be more than 60 million senior citizens in the United States alone. That also means many more people in nursing homes. With healthcare staffing at crisis levels, the potential for negligence, neglect, and abuse is likely to also hit an all-time high.
Nobody wants to think about their beloved senior relatives getting hurt by neglectful or abusive staff in a nursing facility. We place senior citizens in these facilities for their protection and care, not to be harmed. Explore your options if you suspect your elderly loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, and the steps you should take to seek justice.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse doesn’t just refer to your loved one getting beaten up by staff, though that certainly is one form. Besides physical abuse, however, there are multitudes of other ways in which residents in an elder care facility can be mistreated. These forms of abuse can include:
If the staff at a nursing facility take advantage of your loved ones in any way, this can be a situation of abuse. According to an NCEA (National Center on Elder Abuse) study, 44% of residents in nursing homes report some level of mistreatment, and 95% claim to have witnessed or suffered neglect.
Know the Warning Signs
The first step in avoiding abuse is to understand and watch for warning signs. If your loved one shows unexplained marks on their body (bruises, cuts, welts, burns or the like), displays unexplained illnesses (especially STDs), has their bank account and finances mysteriously drained, displays unexplained mood shifts or disturbing behavioral patterns (withdrawn, afraid to be touched, aggressive, depressed, fearful, etc.), or shows a visible lack of hygiene, these can all be signs of abuse or neglect. Never write them off.
What to Do
The first thing you should do if you suspect neglect or abuse is to report it to the appropriate authorities. Call 911 if it’s an emergency. If it isn’t life-threatening, report it to the local DA’s office or law enforcement agency. You can also call the local Adult Protective Services agency or get in touch with the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence, who keep a list of hotlines for reporting senior abuse.
As soon as you report the problem, you should contact a qualified elder law attorney right away. An attorney can step in and help you make the right reports to the right people, make sure that investigations are thorough and follow-up happens, and help you to look into your legal options including those for relocation or seeking compensation for the injuries your senior parent has suffered.
If you’re in West Virginia and you need the help of an elder law attorney with a lot of experience, Bell Law is here to help. Just drop us an email or pick up the phone and call us today and we’ll get started providing your senior loved one the protection they need.