Nursing home abuse involves the physical, sexual, emotional, financial abuse or neglect of an elderly person. Sadly, it is a common occurrence; in a survey of 2,000 nursing home residents, 44% reported abuse and 95% reported neglect on the part of their caregivers. Learn more about this heinous crime and what you can do if you suspect one of your relatives is a nursing home abuse victim.
Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
While there is no justification for nursing home abuse, it is important to keep in mind certain factors may increase the risk of your elderly relative experiencing abuse.
Quality of the Nursing Home
Families should make sure to fully research the nursing home they ultimately select for their relative. While many nursing homes provide excellent care and service, others have a higher chance of abusing elders who are sick or have mental health issues. Factors that increase the likelihood of abuse in a nursing home include:
Understaffing. When a nursing home is understaffed, caregivers are spread too thin to pay enough attention to each resident. Understaffing can lead to neglect, as well as increase the likelihood of falls and other injuries.
Stressed or exhausted caregivers. Understaffing can cause caregivers to become stressed or exhausted, which raises the chances of the caregiver neglecting or intentionally harming an elderly person.
Health of the Elderly Person
An elderly person’s condition may put them at higher risk for nursing home abuse. An extremely sick elderly person may not receive the level of care they need if the nursing home is understaffed. Additionally, if the elderly person cannot communicate well, they may not be able to report incidents of abuse. If one of your relatives has these risk factors, it’s important to check in on them frequently and make sure they are receiving proper care.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Anyone who has an elderly relative who lives in a nursing home should know the warning signs of nursing home abuse. Review the following information so you know how to identify any physical, sexual, emotional, financial abuse or neglect the next time you visit your loved one.
Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include:
Unexplained broken bones or bruising
Failing to take medications properly
Signs of restraint, such as marks on the elderly person’s wrists or ankles
The caregiver’s refusal to leave you alone with the elderly person
Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse include:
Unexplained STDs or other genital infections
Bruising near the genitals
Signs and symptoms of emotional abuse include:
Unusual behavior in the elderly person that resembles symptoms of dementia
Witnessing the caregiver belittling or threatening the elderly person
Signs and symptoms of financial abuse include:
Changes in the elderly person’s financial situation
Unexplained withdrawals from the elderly person’s bank account
Missing cash from the elderly person’s room
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
By law, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are required to report any signs of nursing home abuse. If you notice or suspect any of the signs of nursing home abuse during your visit, bring it to the attention of the facility’s staff immediately.
Your relative’s doctor has easy access to their charts and will be able to confirm or deny your suspicions. If you directly witness abuse in a nursing home, contact the authorities.
After you report the abuse, contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney who can help you navigate this complex legal process and ensure the responsible parties are held accountable. Your attorney will help you document the evidence needed to support your case, including:
Writing down the descriptions of the elderly person’s injuries
Taking photos of the elderly person’s injuries
Noting any changes in the elderly person’s behavior
Collecting written statements from any witnesses
Collecting a written statement from the elderly person
Statute of Limitations
It’s important to keep in mind that nursing home abuse cases have a statute of limitations; plaintiffs have a certain period of time to file a claim and start a civil action.
States with 1-year limitation include: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee
States with 2-year limitation include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia
States with 3-year limitation include: Arkansas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin
States with 4-year limitation include: Florida, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming
States with 5-year limitation include: Missouri
States with 6-year limitation include: Maine, North Dakota
Certain exceptions to the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse claims exist, including:
Where the plaintiff had a mental or physical incapacity following the abuse and was not able to file a claim.
Where the injury resulting from the abuse did not manifest until a later time.
Where there is intentional misrepresentation or fraudulent concealment on the part of the defendant.
These exceptions vary from state to state. It’s in your best interest to work with a qualified personal injury attorney who can help you navigate this complex legal process and recover the financial compensation your loved one deserves.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of nursing home abuse, our Kansas City attorneys at DiPasquale Moore are here to fight for you. We have a proven track record of success and a dedication to providing our clients with high-quality legal representation.
Contact us today at (888) 743-1030 to learn how we can help you.