As an adult child, moving a parent to a nursing home is often something that is done with a healthy dose of guilt and worry. If you faced this difficult decision at some point in the recent past, you may still be second guessing your decision. If you begin to suspect that your parent is being abused at the nursing home, you can probably add anger and confusion to the mixed bag of heightened emotions you are currently experiencing. Having never faced this situation before, the confusion comes from not knowing who to turn to for help with your suspicions. A Los Angeles elder law attorney at Schomer Law Group, APC discusses what you need to know about nursing home abuse.
Facts and Figures about Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse of the elderly is not a new phenomenon; however, as the population of older adults in the United States continues to grow at a dramatic rate, the issue of elder abuse and neglect has been thrust into the spotlight. Compiling accurate facts and figures about the prevalence of elder abuse and neglect in general, and nursing home abuse and neglect specifically, is difficult for several reasons. Experts, however, have provided some estimates regarding the frequency with which the elderly are victimized:
- 1 in 10 Americans aged 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse.
- Only 1 in 14 cases of abuse is believed to be reported.
- 5 million elders are likely abused each year.
- More than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90 percent report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients.
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The odds are good that if you suspect something is wrong with your parent, it likely is wrong. It is your parent, after all, that is the potential victim, not a stranger. You likely feel something isn’t right. Nonetheless, it may make you feel more inclined to act on your intuition if you are also able to add some concrete signs of elder abuse to your feelings, such as:
- Unexplained bruising
- Evidence that restraints have been used without good cause
- Excessive and/or unexplained injuries
- Weight loss
- Deteriorating hygiene
- Mood swings
- Hostility or anger
- Deteriorating health without an explanation
- Medications not taken
- Missed doctor appointments
- Money or items missing
How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help?
If you suspect that your parent is the victim of nursing home abuse, there are several steps you can take and/or places to turn to for assistance. Approaching the administration of the facility is certainly one option. Sometimes the administration truly is unaware of instances of abuse or neglect occurring within the facility. If you suspect a general atmosphere of neglect, and even abuse though, the administration may be indirectly condoning the abuse and neglect by failing to act on it. You may also wish to make an official report to the appropriate law enforcement agency because elder abuse is a crime.
Consulting with an experienced elder law attorney, however, should be among your first steps if you suspect nursing home abuse. While elder abuse is a crime, it may also serve as the basis of a civil lawsuit against the facility. In addition, you may need assistance removing your parent from the facility if you do not already have power of attorney or guardianship over him or her. Given the serious nature of the issues involved, and the complex legalities you may face, having a competent and compassionate elder law attorney on your side to provide you with advice and guidance will be invaluable.
Contact Los Angeles Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about nursing home abuse or other elder law issues, contact the experienced Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.