According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were over 16,000 nursing homes in the United States in 2004. Over 1.5 million people called those facilities home that year and that population is expected to keep growing.
Unfortunately, some residents will also experience some form of abuse or neglect during their time in a nursing home. For those who have loved ones in any type of long-term care facility, it is important to be mindful and watch for signs of abuse.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) defines physical abuse as any “use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment.” This can include hitting, shaking, use of restraints, slapping and other forms of physical contact. Bruising or other unexplained injuries are often signs of physical abuse, along with a caretaker’s refusal to allow visitors or a sudden change in the elder person’s behavior.
Physical abuse can also include forms of neglect, such as dehydration, malnutrition and untreated health problems. The NCEA notes that providing the elderly person with unsafe, hazardous, unsanitary or unclean living conditions can constitute neglect as well.
Bed sores, also referred to as pressure ulcers or decubitis ulcers, are one of the strongest signs of neglect and are completely preventable. Typically, bed sores form on areas where the bone comes into close contact with the skin on the heels, elbows, shoulders and back of the head. They can, however, appear any place on the skin subjected to prolonged pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that bed sores are categorized in stages by the depth and severity of the wound:
In 2004, the CDC estimated that 11 percent of all nursing home residents suffered from some type of pressure sore, with stage two being the most common.
According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) sexual abuse can be any non-consensual physical contact. This can include rape, forced nudity and other degrees of sexual assault. Incidences of sexual abuse are difficult to identify because often the elderly person is unwilling or unable to communicate the extent of the contact. The NCPEA notes there are many physical indicators of sexual abuse:
As with physical abuse, behavior changes can also be indicative of sexual abuse.
A survey conducted by the NCEA in 2000, found that financial exploitation comprised 13 percent of the abuse allegations investigated by law enforcement. But according to the National Institute of Justice, financial abuse of the elderly is vastly underreported. At the White House Conference on Aging in 2005, it was noted that nearly one in every six elderly people will be the victim of financial exploitation and abuse, though only one in every 100 cases is reported.
The NCEA notes that any of the following may be evidence of financial exploitation:
If you suspect a loved one is experiencing any form of elder abuse, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced elder abuse attorney.
The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.