The Reality of Nursing Home Abuse
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento nursing home abuse lawyer. Many elderly individuals experience abuse. While this can happen at home or in public, it happens in a third of nursing homes in this country. Let’s take a look at what nursing home abuse is, its incidence and how families can be on alert to detect it.
Nursing Home Demographics
There are over 15,600 nursing homes in the United States with close to two million beds available. The majority are privately owned at 69.8 percent. About 1.3 million people live in nursing homes. The average expense is roughly $83,000 with 70 percent of residents paying with Medicaid. The cost increases each year, and about 10,000 people born in the 40s and 50s are reaching 65 every day. The need for more facilities is increasing exponentially.
Incidence of Nursing Home Abuse
According to a government committee, approximately 30 percent of all nursing homes are cited for abuse. Of these 9,000 instances of reported abuse, 16 percent were serious, causing significant harm or risk of death. The Department of Health and Human Services has said that 25 percent of abuse is never reported to the police, leaving the chance of repeated instances intact. It is mandatory that abuse be reported to the proper authorities and the incident investigated by the nursing home, local and state law enforcement and state fraud control units for Medicaid and Medicare.
Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse
There are different types of abuse.
- Physical neglect: This usually involves poor hygienic care such as failing to change bedridden residents, washing sheets and clothes and bathing residents properly and often. Proper care by medical authorities may be lacking in some facilities.
- Emotional neglect: Verbal mistreatment can be devastating. Isolation is a major form of emotional abuse. The resident may be threatened by the chance of physical abuse.
- Sexual abuse: This can and does happen in nursing homes where the individual is dependent on the staff. Often the nursing home resident is either too embarrassed or afraid to tell anyone what happened.
- Physical abuse: Some residents of nursing homes are treated roughly or are physically assaulted. This includes: hitting, slapping and pinching. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including broken bones and lacerations.
- Mental abuse: this is one of the most common types of abuse, reported in 54 percent of cases. Yet, it is also one of the most difficult to detect. It utilizes threats, manipulatory conduct, fear and humiliation. Residents might be subjected to waiting for long periods for food or keeping needed items such as a wheelchair, dentures or glasses at a distance from the person’s bed or reach.
- Financial abuse: This varies from cashing an elderly person’s check to using funds for an unapproved reason. Forcing a resident to sign documents such as a will or forging their signature is another way this sort of abuse manifests itself.
How to Detect Abuse
Families need to be alert for abuse in any form. Most detection involves observation. For instance,
- Neglect can be detected by weight loss (clothes becoming too large or an obvious decrease in weight), dehydration, sunburn, inadequate hygiene, bruising, bed sores or other infections.
- Sexual abuse can be suggested if the resident complains of genital infections, pain when sitting, signs of being restrained unnecessarily, bloody sheets or underclothing or anxiety when an employee of the facility comes to take the person to the bathroom or bathing.
- Mental abuse signs such as withdrawal, agitation and depression are evident with this sort of abuse. Different and erratic behavior as well as fearfulness and confusion are also seen.
- Physical abuse: This can be suspected if there are bruises, lacerations, restraint marks and overuse of sedation. The individual may seem confused or withdrawn. They may become agitated if a particular staff member enters the room or recoil when the person reaches out to hand them something.
- Financial abuse: The sudden depletion of bank funds or the presence of a new will are telltale signs. This sort of abuse has been estimated at over two billion dollars per year.
Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento nursing home abuse lawyer. It is difficult to talk about the abuse of a vulnerable family member. However, being aware of tell-tale signs and resolving the problem is part of what needs to be done. If this has happened to you or an elderly member of the family, seeking the advice of an experienced injury lawyer can assist in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. You can also reach me online.
I’ve won verdicts and settlements of $1 million for some clients. This made me eligible to be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates, an honor I am proud of.
If you’d like to learn more about personal injury law topics, stay right here on AutoAccident.com, the website I founded and own.
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