When we place our aging loved ones in a nursing facility, we entrust that facility to provide quality care and ensure a safe living environment. Sadly, this is not always the case. As much as we would like to believe that our loved ones are receiving the care they need, there are many nursing homes that violate our trust and expose their residents to neglect and abuse.
Abuse and neglect have been ongoing problems in America’s nursing facilities for several years. An ABC News investigation from the early 2000s found that elder abuse occurs in approximately one out of every three nursing homes in the U.S. Since then, the crisis has worsened because of aging demographics, a major shortage of healthcare workers, industry consolidation, and more for-profit facilities that prioritize their bottom line over the quality of life of their residents.
Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Here are some of the most common forms of neglect and abuse that seniors are subjected to in nursing facilities:
Many seniors are on special diets and are only able to tolerate certain types of foods. And when they do not receive proper nourishment, they are at great risk of becoming ill and even developing life-threatening conditions. Part of the problem in this area is that nursing home staff are often not properly trained and do not provide the residents with the meals they are supposed to have. Another issue is that seniors require extra time to eat, and short staffing and/or lack of patience often means that residents are not given adequate time to finish their meals.
Improper Use of Restraints
Sometimes, a nursing home resident needs to be restrained for their own safety. This could be done with physical restraints or chemical restraints (such as medications), or a combination of these. Nursing home employees who are not trained and/or have poor judgment sometimes use these restraints when they are not necessary or appropriate. This can result in very dangerous and deadly conditions; such as extreme physical pain, medication overdoses, severe medical conditions, mental health issues, and even death.
Lack of Adequate Medical Care
Because of understaffing, lack of competence, and similar issues, nursing home residents sometimes do not receive even the basic medical care they need. Some common examples of substandard medical care include failure to check on patients regularly, failure to notice obvious signs that a resident needs medical attention, medication errors (e.g., overdoses, dangerously mixing medications, administering medication to the wrong patient, etc.), and many others.
Nursing home residents may be subjected to more than just neglect. Sometimes, it turns into outright abuse. Some employees have questionable backgrounds and/or they are simply not qualified to work with the elderly. Because of their temperament and/or character issues, they physically abuse a resident when they get frustrated, or they do it just to exert their power or feel superior. Examples of physical abuse include pushing, shoving, pinching, slapping, hitting, kicking, beating, and striking with an object.
As horrifying and sickening as it is to contemplate, sexual abuse occurs in nursing facilities far more often than most people realize. According to a 2017 CNN investigation, more than 1,000 nursing homes throughout the country have been cited in recent years for mishandling suspected cases of sexual abuse. Many of the elderly are seen as easy targets for predators, particularly those who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and are less likely to clearly remember the event. This is one of many reasons why thorough and comprehensive background checks are so crucial when nursing facilities hire employees.
Elderly nursing home residents are dependent on their caregivers for almost everything. This makes it very easy for wrongdoers to emotionally abuse someone who is under their care. Examples of emotional/psychological abuse include insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, and isolation. And because of the major power imbalance between the caregiver and elderly patient, nursing home residents are very reluctant to report abuse for fear of reprisal and/or fear that they will not be believed.
Has Your Loved One Been Neglected or Abused in a Nursing Home? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. for Help
With so many nursing homes not meeting even the minimum standards of care that we should rightfully expect, it is important for family members to be on the lookout for signs of nursing home neglect and abuse. If you believe that your loved one is being abused, report this to the proper authorities, and if they are in immediate danger, call 911 or the police. Next, get in touch with a seasoned nursing home abuse attorney.
At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., we are outraged when we learn that a nursing facility resident has been severely harmed through neglect or abuse, and we put our extensive experience to work to help ensure that those responsible for these egregious actions are held fully accountable. Call us today at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Pittsburgh office in person at your convenience. We look forward to serving you!