Identifying the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Sadly, nursing home abuse is common in the United States. While precise statistics are difficult to obtain due to widespread underreporting, the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that more than 14,250 complaints involving “abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation” were filed in 2014 alone. Distributed evenly across the year, that’s a daily average of nearly 40 nursing home complaints involving the abuse and neglect of our vulnerable, defenseless senior citizens.

If you’re concerned that a nursing home employee is physically abusing, sexually abusing, or financially abusing your elderly spouse or relative, it’s imperative to seek immediate legal help from a knowledgeable, aggressive, and experienced nursing home abuse attorney. By taking swift legal action, you could be able to recover financial compensation and even more importantly, you may be saving your loved one’s life. To talk about your nursing home abuse claim in a free and confidential legal consultation with a personal injury lawyer who handles nursing home cases throughout the U.S., contact us right away.

What is Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home?

Nursing home abuse often, but not always, involves acts of physical violence, such as slapping or kicking. Nursing home abuse can also take the form of rape, sexual assault, sexual touching, sexual harassment, sexual coercion, or forcing a resident to be photographed in sexually explicit ways. In other cases, the abuse is financial in nature, robbing the resident of prized possessions, or stripping away decades of savings that were meant to secure a better life for their children, grandchildren, and other loved ones.

No matter what form nursing home abuse takes, all forms of abuse are prohibited by law, and should be penalized harshly wherever they are uncovered. Our goal is to hold abusive nursing home staff members accountable for their actions, obtaining the maximum compensation for victims in the process. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us for a cost-free legal consultation. Our nursing home injury lawyers are here to help.

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Common Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

One of the major reasons why nursing home abuse goes unreported is that the victims themselves often feel too afraid or too embarrassed to speak up about the mistreatment. Because nursing home residents frequently hesitate to tell their loved ones about the abuse they are enduring, having the ability to recognize the warning signs of abuse is crucial for anyone with a loved one in a nursing home. Abusers will typically escalate their behavior over time, so it is vital to detect and stop the abuse as early as possible, before the resident is permanently injured or even killed.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves causing harm to the a resident’s body. Injuries may be internal, external, or both. In addition to being immensely painful and limiting, injuries are also very dangerous for elderly people, because it is easy for infections and other complications to arise following surgery, or at other points during the slow and difficult healing process.

Other than physical injuries, common warning signs that a nursing home resident is being physically abused include the following:

  • Bed sores (pressure ulcers/pressure sores/decubitus ulcers).
  • Dehydration and malnutrition.
  • Depression, anxiety, fearfulness, or other unusual changes to mood or personality.
  • Fearfulness around nursing home staff members.
  • Hesitance to talk in front of nursing home employees.
  • The resident isolating themselves from others.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be perpetrated by nursing home staff members, strangers who are permitted to enter the facility, or even other residents. While the victims are frequently female residents with physical or mental impairments, all residents can be sexually victimized, including male residents, younger residents, and residents without significant mobility issues or cognitive impairments.

Sexual abuse may involve rape, sodomy, sexual harassment, sexual touching and molestation, sexually explicit photography or filming, or forcing residents to perform sexual acts upon themselves or with others. In many instances, residents are mentally and/or physically incapable of giving consent to sexual acts due to dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other medical conditions. While the physical injuries caused by sexual abuse can be absolutely debilitating, the emotional trauma is often the most devastating aspect of the abuse.

Some common warning signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes include:

  • Bloody or abnormal discharge.
  • Bloody or tattered underwear.
  • Bruises, cuts, welts, burns, handprints, or bite marks on the victim’s body, particularly in the genital area or on the buttocks or upper thighs.
  • Depression, anxiety, fearfulness, or other unusual changes to mood or personality.
  • Pain when walking, sitting, standing, lying down, or using the bathroom.
  • Rope burns or friction burns from restraints on the wrists or ankles.
  • STDs, STIs, and UTIs.

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Signs of Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is also called financial exploitation. Though not physically harmful like sexual or physical abuse, financial abuse nonetheless constitutes a major violation of the resident’s rights. Financial abuse can have devastating consequences for the resident and heirs who would have inherited money or otherwise benefited from the resident’s savings or assets.

Financial abuse generally involves using theft, coercion or deception to gain access to, and control over, a resident’s bank account, credit cards, and/or valuable personal possessions or assets. The abuser may accomplish this by forcing a resident to sign a document under threat of punishment, by gaining “consent” while the resident is incapable of consenting due to dementia or other impairments, or by simply lying to a resident about the facility’s policies or requirements.

Some common indicators of financial exploitation in nursing homes include:

  • Checks being cashed without the resident’s consent.
  • Forged signatures on legal or financial documents.
  • Identity theft.
  • Possessions going missing.
  • Unexplainable bank statements or credit card charges.

Contact Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers About Your Injury Claim

The nursing home injury attorneys at Wieand Law Firm have experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits against nursing homes. We handle nursing home abuse claims involving a wide array of injuries, illnesses, and complications, including but not limited to:

  • Amputations
  • Back Injuries
  • Bed Sores
  • Broken Bones
  • Burn Injuries
  • Bruises and Contusions
  • Coma
  • Cuts and Lacerations
  • Facial Injuries
  • Fall Injuries
  • Head Injuries
  • Infections
  • Paralysis
  • Pelvic Fractures (Broken Hips)
  • Scald Injuries
  • Scarring and Disfigurement
  • Seizures
  • Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
  • Sprains, Strains, and Torn Ligaments (Soft Tissue Injuries)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Wrongful Death

We encourage you to contact us immediately if you have any suspicion at all that a nursing home staff member is abusing your mother, father, grandparent, spouse, or other elderly loved one. There is no such thing as a “bad question” when it comes to protecting the people you care about. For a free, no-obligation, and confidential legal consultation, contact our nursing home abuse attorneys today.