Nursing Home Abuse and Legal Options
Having an elderly relative in a nursing home is meant to give you peace of mind, as immediate care should be given around-the-clock. But what happens when neglect is taking place? Or even physical abuse? It is not always clear how health professionals behave when you are not around, and oftentimes the elderly are not able to speak up and defend themselves once you are.
What is Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse?
Abuse is not always physical, and not all physical abuse can be easily seen. Physical abuse is the non-accidental harm against another person that results in physical pain, injury, and/or deterioration.
Common examples of physical abuse to elders, include:
Inappropriate use of drugs
Constraint without reason (sometimes restraints are necessary if the individual is causing harm to themselves or others)
Common examples of emotional abuse (both verbal and nonverbal), include:
Intimidation – yelling or threats
Degradation and intentional embarrassment
Ignoring the elderly person
Isolation from other residents or recreational activities
Blaming or demeaning the elderly
As a friend or relative to an elderly resident of a nursing home, you may be his or her only hope in stopping the abuse. It is important to be aware of the signs of emotional or physical mistreatment. Alzheimer’s residents are among the largest group of neglected and abused in care facilities, and are usually unable to communicate their abuses to their relatives. Below is a list of signs that the elderly may display if they are being mistreated:
Low self confidence
Avoiding eye contact
Does not speak clearly or openly
Appears sad, depressed, and/or withdrawn when they were normally not in the past
Sudden change in eating or sleeping habits
Mood swings that are sudden and unexplained
How does Nevada Rank in Elderly Care Facilities?
The tragic reality of nursing homes today is that neglect and abuse are at all-time highs, and are expected to rise according to researchers. Families for Better Care, a non-profit for elderly advocacy, did a survey in 2013 that analyzed federal data to compare conditions of various long-term care facilities across the United States. From their findings, Nevada was given an “F” because of the significant amount of deficiencies that were found in nursing homes throughout the state.
In the study, it was found that 100 percent of Nevada elderly care facilities had at least one minor deficiency regarding the quality of patient care, as well as the quality of living conditions. Even more, the non-profit group also concluded that one out of three Nevada care facilities were cited for severe deficiencies. In health care, a severe deficiency is defined as an event or circumstance that causes immediate or actual harm to an individual, resulting in neglect, injury, abuse, or death. These findings are distressing for families that are either in the process of choosing an elderly care facility for their loved ones, or will be in the future.
What is even more alarming is the amount of time spent daily that Nevada residents receive in direct care at these facilities. According to the study, residents received an average of 2.14 or less hours of direct care from their professional caretakers. Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, said that, “Inadequate staffing contributes to the enormity of nursing home neglect. Residents are unable to be cared for properly when they receive fewer than two hours and 10 minutes of daily care.”
While the state ranked low for deficiencies and staffing, Nevada was given an “A” for verified ombudsman complaints. Ombudsman, in terms of medical care, is defined as an official that is appointed to investigate maltreatment of patients in a care facility.
Be a Step Ahead
Before choosing a care facility, always do research to see what types of deficiencies the facility has been cited for. The last thing you want to do is place your loved one in a nursing home that has been cited for a severe deficiency, especially if it was a recent citation. Also speak with other members of your community to see which care facilities they have had experience with and their satisfaction with the staffing and care provided.
If you suspect elder abuse at a care facility, call your personal injury attorney now. Do not wait until it is too late to final a claim against medical mistreatment and abuse.