Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility is never easy. It requires a great deal of faith and trust to allow others to care for your vulnerable family member, which is why allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect are so upsetting.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse refers to treatment that is deliberately intended to cause harm to a resident, although the severity of the abuse may vary. Nursing home abuse is frequently caused by caregiver anger and frustration. Workers who are unhappy with the demands of their job or upset by circumstances in their personal life may view seniors who are unable to care for themselves as easy targets.
Some examples of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical abuse, such as pinching, grabbing, pushing, kicking, or slapping
- Verbal abuse, including name-calling and making discriminatory comments about race, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation
- Sexual abuse
- Giving residents unneeded sedatives or antipsychotics to make them docile
- Physically restraining residents who are not a danger to themselves or others
- Taking a resident’s pain-relieving medication for personal use or to sell on the black market
- Stealing money or personal items from a resident
- Isolating residents to keep them from reporting their mistreatment or taking punitive action against residents who’ve spoken up about past abuse
Changes in mood or behavior, weight loss, unexplained injuries, and seeming fearful of caretakers are the most common signs of nursing home abuse. If a resident is being abused, you may also notice a pattern of disorganization and evasiveness within the facility itself as those in power attempt to cover up the mistreatment.
Often, residents who are being mistreated will experience more than one form of abuse. For example, verbal abuse may progress into physical abuse or theft of the resident’s belongings. While any nursing home resident may become a victim of abuse, those who have intense physical needs or suffer from cognitive impairment are often targeted because they are viewed as less likely to report their mistreatment.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
While abuse involves a specific intent to cause harm, conduct that qualifies as nursing home neglect may not be intentional. Neglect involves a breach of the duty of care that is expected when a resident is admitted to a nursing home.
Neglect is often due to understaffing. Nursing homes have very high employee turnover because the work is draining and low paid. Positions may go unfilled because there aren’t enough workers in the local community, or workers may be hired who are inexperienced and poorly trained.
Examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Not providing enough food and water to prevent malnutrition and dehydration
- Providing insufficient supervision and assistance for residents who can’t eat on their own or are at risk of choking
- Failing to help a resident with bathing, brushing teeth, or other forms of personal hygiene
- Insufficient medical care for bed sores, infections, or other concerns common to those who can’t care for themselves
- Neglecting a resident’s emotional and social need for companionship from loved ones and other residents
- Poor supervision that leads to falls or other injuries
- Failing to intervene when a nursing home resident is being mistreated by another resident
The signs of neglect are similar to signs of nursing home abuse but often develop over a longer period of time. This means they can be easily missed if family and friends are unable to visit regularly.
Taking Legal Action
Whenever you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, you should first attempt to resolve the issue with nursing home administrators. If the administrative staff fails to take prompt action to keep your loved one safe, filing a claim for nursing home abuse and neglect can force them to make necessary improvements while providing compensation for your family and helping to protect other vulnerable seniors.
Nursing home residents have a legal right to live in a safe environment, be treated with dignity and respect, and participate in healthcare decision-making to the best of their ability. When their rights are violated, you can file a civil suit to seek compensation for damages related to the abuse or neglect. This includes medical expenses, property damage, costs associated with relocating to a new facility, pain and suffering, mental distress, and loss of care and companionship. In some cases, punitive damages may be available.
Some forms of nursing home abuse, such as sexual abuse, will result in criminal charges. If a criminal charge has been filed, this is separate from your civil claim. However, the evidence gathered in the criminal case may support your allegations of abuse or neglect.
Our Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney in Anchorage, Alaska Can Help
When you call the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, you’ll speak to an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney who will fight to protect your loved one’s legal rights. Call Ben today at 907-885-6032 or take a moment to fill out the online contact form to request a free consultation.