Serious nursing home abuse is often not reported, as some residents may avoid reporting abuse because of fear or embarrassment.
Other residents may not have the physical or mental ability to stand up to an abuser or to report the situation. This is where vulnerable residents need the help of a third party to step in and protect their rights.
Report any physical abuse suspicions to the nursing home administration and to law enforcement. These experts in the field of abuse can determine exactly what is happening.
Abuse Versus Neglect
Sometimes, a nursing home resident could suffer a physical injury or emotional distress from neglect as well as abuse.
Neglect in Nursing Homes
In the case of nursing home neglect, staff does not intend to cause the injury. A staff member may simply make a mistake or may have received improper training.
A neglected resident may not receive bathing at the proper time or may miss a medication dose. The staff may believe it is doing everything required to keep the resident safe, but a case of elder neglect still occurs.
Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse is a purposeful act that a nursing home staff member undertakes to injure or bully the resident.
A nursing home worker who is guilty of neglect can undergo further training with a desire to correct the problems. A worker who is engaging in abuse has no desire to fix the problem and keep the resident safe, which means the abuse will almost certainly continue over time.
Spotting Signs of Physical Abuse
Common forms of physical abuse in nursing homes may lead to obvious clues that family members, medical personnel, or other staff members may notice. However, in some cases, the abuser may be able to hide the signs of abuse, making it tougher to diagnose the problem.
Examples of Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home
Abuse in nursing homes can occur through a variety of situations, including:
- Burning the skin
- Restraining as punishment
- Withholding food or water as punishment
- Ignoring calls for help
- Leaving a resident socially isolated
- Assigning improper medication
- Ignoring medical conditions
- Sexual abuse
Signs of Physical Abuse Injuries
When a staff member is abusing a nursing home resident, there may be physical injuries that you can see. These may include:
- Unexplained bruises, especially in the upper half of the body.
- Unexplained cuts or burns.
- Sprains or broken bones.
- Injuries that repeat.
- Injuries to genitals or the anus.
Because of embarrassment or fear, the victim may refuse to see a doctor about the injuries because of embarrassment or fear. The victim may be unwilling to explain how an injury occurred.
A victim of abuse who has a mental illness may not be able to understand what is happening to them. Victims who are vulnerable are common targets for an abuser because they often cannot report the abuse.
Signs of Mental Distress
A nursing home resident who is suffering in an abusive situation may show signs of mental distress. These may include:
- Withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities.
- Avoiding friends and family.
- Fearing being left alone.
- Sleeping problems.
- Attempting suicide.
- Showing fear of a staff member.
Some abusers prefer using psychological abuse against a nursing home resident, as it does not leave physical marks. The abuser also may be able to bully the resident into giving the abuser money or into signing legal documents.
Keeping Elderly Residents Safe
Nursing home administration has the responsibility to ensure that staff is not abusing the residents. If third parties report any cases of abuse, the nursing home owners must take them seriously and perform a full investigation to put a stop to physical abuse in nursing homes.
Staff committing elder abuse needs to be held liable, so that they do not perpetuate this abuse onto multiple residents. If you have reported abuse at your nursing home, and you feel the owners are not taking the action they should, look to Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to protect the rights of your loved one. Call us today at (800) 842-6336 for a free consultation.