Elder abuse and neglect are common problems that affect older adults across the United States. At least 1 out of 10 adults over 65 have suffered from at least one type of elder abuse in the U.S.
Many cases of neglect and abuse aren’t reported. The U.S. Department of Justice states that 1 in 20 cases of physical abuse and 1 in 12 instances of psychological abuse against elders are never reported. Knowing the signs of elder abuse and neglect and what steps to take to report mistreatment can help protect your loved one in an Alabama nursing care facility.
Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Identifying signs of elder abuse and neglect is vital to safeguard nursing home residents. These indicators can differ, so watch for changes in your loved one’s health or behavior.
When it comes to physical signs of elder abuse and neglect, be aware of the following:
- Unexplained injuries. Look for unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, or fractures. These may be caused by accidents or falls due to negligent care, such as failing to help an elderly resident to the bathroom or during bathing.
- Signs of malnutrition or dehydration. Watch for sudden weight loss, dry or cracked lips, sunken eyes, or other indications of inadequate nutrition and hydration. This may mean your loved one is not receiving proper care from nursing home staff.
- Bedsores or untreated conditions. Bedsores (pressure ulcers) can develop when residents are not properly repositioned. Untreated medical conditions, wounds, or infections can also indicate neglect. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are often seen in unsanitary nursing home facilities that lack proper cleaning and hygiene procedures.
Residents suffering from abuse or neglect can often show emotional indications of mistreatment, including:
- Changes in behavior. Look for sudden and unexplained changes in your loved one’s behavior, such as withdrawal from social activities or relationships, mood swings, or increased agitation.
- Signs of fear, anxiety, or depression. Pay attention to any signs of fear or anger in your loved one’s demeanor, especially in the presence of a specific staff member or resident. Also note symptoms of depression such as sadness, hopelessness, or disinterest in previously enjoyed activities.
- Reluctance to speak in the presence of nursing home staff. If your loved one seems reluctant to talk when staff are around, it could indicate they feel intimidated.
Elder abuse can extend to financial matters. The following are signs to watch for that may indicate financial abuse:
- Unexplained withdrawals or changes in financial situations. Monitor your loved one’s financial records for suspicious transactions. Unfamiliar withdrawals or sudden changes to their will or beneficiaries might suggest possible abuse or pressure from staff.
- Missing personal belongings. If valuables or personal items disappear without a clear reason, it might indicate theft or mismanagement. For example, staff might take jewelry, clothing, or other belongings meant for your loved one’s use and enjoyment or use them for other residents.
Neglect is a serious concern in nursing homes, characterized by a lack of care by staff or medical providers. The following signs may point to neglect-related issues:
- Poor hygiene or unkempt appearance. Check if your loved one’s personal hygiene, like bathing and grooming, is up to standard. Signs of neglect can include dirty clothes and unkempt bedding.
- Lack of necessary medical aids. Ensure your loved one has necessary medical aids like eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, or prescribed medications. If these are missing or not provided, it might signal neglect on the part of their caregivers.
- Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions. Check the living conditions for tidiness, upkeep, and safety. Poor living environments can be dangerous for residents, potentially leading to infections such as scabies or MRSA.
Legal Obligations of Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are legally obligated to provide residents with a safe, nurturing, and respectful environment. They must meet specific standards of care, including:
- Ensuring residents’ physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
- Providing necessary medical treatment and assistance with daily activities.
- Preventing abuse and neglect of residents.
- Creating and enforcing policies and procedures to maintain residents’ safety.
When a nursing home facility fails in duty to residents, it can face fees, penalties, sanctions, and closures. Administrators and staff may also face civil claims that seek restitution for the damages done to a resident due to abusive or negligent behavior.
Taking Prompt Action in Suspected Abuse Cases
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of elder abuse or neglect in an Alabama nursing home, take action. Reporting your concerns to the appropriate authorities and seeking legal guidance can help protect your loved one and hold responsible parties accountable.
When reporting suspected abuse and neglect:
- Contact Alabama Adult Protective Services. Contact Alabama Adult Protective Services or your local law enforcement agency if you believe your loved one is in immediate danger.
- Document evidence. Gather proof of abuse or neglect, like pictures of injuries, medical documents, or testimonies from witnesses. Share your concerns with the nursing home staff in writing, either via email or letter. This provides evidence that they’ve been informed, helping defend your loved one’s rights and supporting any claims against the facility.
- Seek legal counsel. Seek advice from an experienced nursing home negligence attorney in Alabama to learn about your legal options and ensure your elderly relative’s rights are upheld. At The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers, our team can assist you in reporting your concerns, gathering evidence, and pursuing compensation for your loved one’s physical and emotional distress.
Protect Your Loved Ones With Skilled Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
When you suspect elder abuse or neglect, taking swift action is crucial. Our experienced Alabama nursing home negligence lawyers at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the complex legal process.
Contact us today for a free case review. We’ll evaluate your situation and work to safeguard the well-being and rights of your loved one. Let us help you take immediate action against nursing home negligence and abuse.