Taking care of senior citizens requires attention to detail and compassion. While you expect those providing your loved one’s care to meet these requirements, it isn’t always the case. Some nursing homes aren’t as well-equipped to meet the challenges of caring for seniors. When this happens, instances of nursing home abuse can occur. For the family members of those in a nursing facility, you may wonder how you can protect your loved one’s rights. Having an experienced Columbia nursing home abuse lawyer represent your loved one can be the way your family moves forward.
The Rising Problem of Nursing Home Abuse
According to the Elder Abuse Public Awareness and Prevention Fact Sheet, about 5 million seniors suffer from abuse, neglect, or exploitation each year. While abuse may be a blanket term used to cover mistreatment of elders, it’s important to understand the difference between the three terms. Abuse can cover physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Physical abuse includes hitting, shoving, handling too roughly, and can result in bruising and broken bones. The nursing home may also use restrains as a form of controlling your loved one. If used improperly, these may result in strangulation. Physical restraints are supposed to be used as a last resort if the resident is in danger of harming themselves or others and cannot be used as punishment. If emotional abuse occurs, the abuser may use insults, swear, or treat the senior poorly. When anything of a sexual nature occurs without consent, it’s abuse. If you notice any physical injuries on your loved one and the staff doesn’t provide an explanation or tries to brush it off, you may want to consider reporting what happened. An occasional and minor bump or bruise may happen, but this shouldn’t occur regularly.
Neglect may involve the senior not getting the care they need because the home doesn’t have the staff to meet those needs. This can result in delays in receiving medication, an irregular hygiene schedule, and hours spent alone. Some seniors may need medical equipment like hearing aids. If you notice they’re consistently without medical equipment they need, then they’re not getting the attentive care they deserve. The staff may not be doing this on purpose, but this is no excuse for your loved one to suffer or put their health in danger.
Exploitation includes taking advantage of a senior to gain access to their bank account or other assets. Those with memory issues may not realize someone is stealing from them or changing important documents. If there is bizarre ATM activity like large withdrawals or checks with your elder’s signature but it doesn’t look like their handwriting, someone may be stealing from them.
Your nursing home abuse lawyer in Columbia will determine what your loved one experienced and how it affected them. The abuse can present different signs and symptoms. Knowing these signs could potentially help you identify that something is amiss with your loved one and you could prevent it from continuing.
How Does Nursing Home Abuse Affect Health?
Abused seniors have a 300% higher risk of death compared to seniors who haven’t dealt with abuse. Take a look at the following areas in how a senior’s health can decline because of elder abuse in Columbia.
- Malnutrition and Dehydration. Missing mealtimes and not getting proper hydration means your loved one won’t be getting the nutrients their body needs. This can make them weaker and more prone to illnesses.
- Injury or Illness. Abuse and lack of supervision can result in injuries. Unfortunately, some injuries also threaten infection, such as hip fractures from falling. Fighting off an infection is harder for those with weaker immune systems. Your loved one may take weeks to recover from a fall. In some cases, an illness as a result from an injury can be fatal. Bed sores are another concern if residents are left in a bed or chair for long periods of time without adjusting.
- Change in Behavior. When visiting your loved one, you may start to notice behaviors that are uncharacteristic. If your loved one seems agitated, upset, or their mood easily changes to a negative emotion like distress or irritability, then there could be underlying problems.
- Poor Hygiene. A nursing home that cannot get to their residents in a timely manner may be evident in the state of your loved one’s hygiene. Their clothes or bedsheets may be dirty or soiled because no one was there to help with changing them. An odor that indicates lack of bathing and dental care can also provide insight into the home’s inability to care for your loved one.
- Sense of Independence and Self-Esteem. As seniors experience abuse or neglect, they may start to feel helpless and undignified. They may not want to participate in activities at the home or take interest in engaging with other residents, which can lead to isolation.
No one deserves to experience this and realizing those taking care of your loved one’s wellbeing aren’t prioritizing their health is scary. You may already be planning to seek legal action with a nursing home abuse attorney, but you need to get your loved one to safety first.
What Can Columbia Citizens Do?
When you’re in a nursing home and you’re keeping the You may not know who can help you after you learn about the abuse your loved one is facing. When you’re trying to put your loved one in a safe environment, there are services you can contact to take care of your loved one.
The people you contact may depend on where your loved one lives. For example, reporting abuse in an assisted living facility typically goes to Adult Protective Services. However, if your loved one is in a nursing home, APS only investigates cases of financial exploitation. If you’re reporting abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you should contact the Office of Health Care Quality. When you’ve contacted the organizations that can look into your complaint, then you can move forward and get in touch with a Columbia nursing home abuse lawyer.
Our Firm Can Provide the Support Your Loved One Needs
When your loved one has been mistreated and their health has suffered because of it, you can take action to get them the justice they deserve. Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC is prepared to fight for Maryland citizens to receive compensation for their economic and noneconomic damages. In addition to the medical care they may have needed or will continue to need, they also experienced pain and suffering. Our lawyers in Columbia will make sure their voice is heard with their claim. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.