Roughly 1,800 deaths occur each year due to elder abuse and nearly 10%, or roughly 150,000 seniors experience elder abuse each year. Elder abuse exists in many forms, many of which may not be evidenced by clear, physical signs. Many victims of elder abuse are frail and vulnerable and often unable to protect themselves or seek needed help. Elder abuse can be difficult to prove once suspicion arises, and a number of nursing home abuse cases go unreported and unpunished.
What is nursing home abuse?
Elder neglect, or nursing home negligence, most commonly occurs when a resident does not receive proper medical, physical, or emotional attention. As a result, neglect can pose a serious risk of harm to victims. In certain cases, neglect may escalate to physical or emotional abuse.
Elder abuse—the mistreatment or exploitation of senior citizens—can take many different forms. Instances of elder abuse range from the infliction of physical harm to the use of fraud or coercion to extract financial or material gain from vulnerable seniors. Elder abuse includes: physical abuse (hitting, pushing, shaking, kicking, force-feeding etc.); emotional/psychological abuse (verbal assaults, intimidation, humiliation, threats, harassment, and treating elders like children); sexual abuse (non-consensual sexual contact with an elder, such as unwanted touching or forced nudity); neglect (a caregiver’s failure to fulfill his or her duty to provide the care needed by an elderly person, such as failure to provide a dependent elder with life necessities like food or clean water); financial or material exploitation (cashing checks without authorization, forging signatures, stealing or misusing money or possessions, coercing or deceiving an elderly person into signing a document, etc.); and abandonment, which occurs when a designated caretaker or legal guardian leaves an elder person to fend for him or herself.
Cause of elder abuse in nursing homes and the necessary actions to take to prevent elder abuse.
Elder abuse in nursing homes can be caused by, but is not limited to, nursing home negligence/fault, inattentiveness, or a conscious mistreatment of elders, whether physically or emotionally. It is the duty and obligation of a Phoenix nursing home to ensure the safety of your parent. The following are a couple necessary actions that should be taken in order to prevent elder abuse: background checks need to be performed on all employees for any previous criminal activity; the employees should be knowledgeable on the care and handling of the elderly, especially to avoid malnutrition and bedsores; and the nursing home also needs to be conscious and aware of its employees and their actions around elders.
While not an exhaustive list, here are some signs to watch out for that could hint at the existence of elder/nursing home abuse: sudden weight loss; bedsores or pressure ulcers; injuries from nursing home falls; dehydration; malnutrition; withdrawal or changes in behavior; lack of personal hygiene or changes to appearance; limited exchange with staff; limited socialization with nursing home residents; or environmental hazards, including poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe equipment or furniture.
If you or a family member has suffered elder abuse, please speak with an attorney immediately. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Cordova are experienced in the area of elder and nursing home abuse.