Elder abuse is a serious problem, which can occur in many forms in a nursing home. The mistreatment of the resident can include things like physical harm, sexual abuse, emotional harm, financial abuse, and violations of basic rights.
Nursing home residents are vulnerable to abuse. Some individuals have Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, or diminished mental functions from other causes. Medications can make a resident less able to advocate for him or herself. Some people are afraid to report abuse because they do not want to get kicked out of the nursing home.
You cannot be at your loved one’s side 24 hours a day. When you are not there, people can harm or take advantage of him or her.
Elder Abuse is Found in Different Forms in Nursing Homes
Most mistreatment of nursing home residents falls into one of these five categories:
Any inappropriate conduct that causes physical harm to the resident can be physical abuse. Obvious examples of physical abuse include hitting, slapping, punching, or pushing the resident. However, this type of harm does not always require physical contact. Intentionally disregarding the institution’s bedsore prevention protocols or leaving the individual lying in his or her own waste can amount to physical abuse. Other forms of physical abuse also include withholding adequate hydration, food, or medication.
Nursing homes should have protocols that routinely and frequently check for signs of physical abuse. Whenever the facility has reason to suspect harm, the administration should take action right away to treat the harmed person and prevent future abuse.
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Nursing home staff members and other residents can commit sexual abuse. Sexual assault or forcible sexual acts against the victim’s will are examples of sexual abuse. Sexual conduct with a resident who does not have the intellectual capacity to give consent is also sexual abuse.
The nursing home has a duty to promptly investigate allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse and take immediate action to keep the resident safe from harm. Not acting can make the facility liable for failing to protect people living in the center.
Psychological harm at a nursing home is unacceptable, whether the abuser is a staff member or another resident. Elder abuse is possible if someone makes fun of a resident for things like:
- His or her medical condition
- Sexual orientation or identity
- Ethnic origin
It can also be emotional abuse when someone threatens the resident or says hateful things to him or her with the intent of causing mental distress. Humiliating or harassing the resident can be abusive.
When the facility learns that a worker or resident is committing emotional abuse, the nursing home must take appropriate action to address the harm and prevent future acts of psychological abuse.
Residents are at risk of financial abuse, which can occur in many different ways. Here are a few examples of the financial mistreatment of nursing home residents:
- A caregiver, friend, or relative runs errands and does the shopping for a resident using the resident’s cash, checkbook, or credit card. Without authorization, the shopper buys themselves items using the resident’s money, writes checks for cash, or runs up charges on the credit card.
- A trusted person handles the financial affairs of the resident. Over time, that person skims money and assets from the bank and investment accounts. They trick the individual into signing over his or her assets to them by making him or her think the paperwork is something other than what it is. Eventually, the resident is destitute.
- A person with a power of attorney violates his fiduciary duty toward the nursing home resident and misuses the authority to transfer the resident’s assets over to himself.
- Someone threatens the resident into handing over his or her Social Security and other benefits.
- Someone in the nursing home steals the resident’s cash or personal items in his or her room.
These are a few examples of the many ways that people commit financial abuse on those living in nursing homes.
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Basic Rights Violations
Most nursing homes get much of their payments from Medicare or Medicaid. If the facility receives any funding from Medicare or Medicaid or has certification from either of these government programs, the nursing home must follow the terms of the Nursing Home Bill of Rights.
This document protects nursing home residents’ rights to be free from abuse or other types of mistreatment. The Bill of Rights allows residents to manage their finances and make medical decisions for themselves. The law requires nursing homes to treat residents with dignity and respect.
If your loved one has suffered abuse at a nursing home, you might be able to take legal action. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm holds nursing homes accountable when their misconduct causes abuse to residents. Elder abuse is a serious concern. Call us today at (800) 842-6336 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.