Elder abuse is a tragic reality in many nursing homes across the country. If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in their long-term care facility, you can help them recover compensation for any damages they have suffered. To get legal support in this effort, work with a West Memphis personal injury lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC.
Defining Elder Abuse and Neglect
Elder abuse is any intentional or negligent act a caregiver or other person takes that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable, elderly adult. The definition of elder neglect is a bit more complex. There are a number of ways that neglect can occur, though most of the time, elder neglect involves a caregiver not fulfilling their obligations to ensure an older person is cared for.
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Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
If you are unsure if your loved one is being abused in their nursing home, you need to look for signs of abuse and neglect. There are several common signs that you should keep an eye out for.
Signs of Physical Abuse
When nursing home staff is abusing a resident physically, it may not be immediately possible to recognize the signs of injury. That is why you need to inspect your loved one’s body to a reasonable extent. Check them thoroughly for any bruises, broken bones, or other injuries.
If they are frequently requesting medical care while they are in the nursing facility, ask them to check their medical records for more information. A doctor should be able to inform you of what signs are present based on their recent medical history.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse may not leave a physical mark, but that does not mean you will not be able to see signs of it. Someone who is being abused emotionally will certainly have a change in their overall disposition. Look out for fearful behavior and unexpected changes in personality or mood.
They may also be afraid to engage with nursing home staff or even other family members and friends. These signs are often the result of their fear of the abuse continuing or worsening if they talk about it.
When nursing home employees engage in sexual behavior with residents, several signs can develop. One of the foremost signs is the development of a sexually transmitted disease. Other signs include pain in sex-related body areas, including tears, injury, and bleeding.
This is a sensitive topic to discuss, so you must approach it with care and consideration for the victim. It is often necessary to get the authorities involved when sexual abuse is potentially happening.
Signs of Neglect
The nursing home staff is there to take care of residents. It is sadly common for these staff members to ignore their responsibilities and neglect the residents instead. To spot signs of neglect, look for evidence of your loved one not having everything they need to maintain a healthy and comfortable lifestyle.
Common symptoms of neglect include malnourishment, lack of food and water, and bad hygiene. If someone is not being tended to frequently, they may also develop bedsores or ulcers.
Theft and Financial Exploitation
If a nursing home resident is not at total mental capacity, they can be taken advantage of financially. To recognize if this is happening, keep an eye on your loved one’s assets. If the resources are being depleted without apparent cause, someone may be exploiting them.
You should especially keep a look out for financial transactions that do not make sense. This could be the fault of an employee or another resident using your loved one’s money for their own purposes.
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Liability in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Once you have spotted signs of nursing home abuse, you may wonder who is liable for your damages. The nursing home or other long-term care facility is generally liable when any of these situations result in you or your loved one being abused or neglected.
The nursing home management is responsible for hiring people who will not pose a threat to residents. If they employed individuals unfit for service in this facility, they are liable for the damages those individuals caused. For example, if a registered sex offender was hired and committed sexual battery against a resident, the nursing home was negligent in hiring that person.
When nursing homes do not have adequate staff, employees may get frustrated or overworked. Under these conditions, it is common for neglect and abuse to occur, sometimes unintentionally. If not enough team members are available to regularly check on the condition of all residents, some people may be neglected, resulting in harm.
When staff members are not trained properly, they are more likely to harm the residents. It is the nursing facility’s responsibility to train its team members adequately. If they do not, they are liable for any harm due to that lack of training.
Still, many nursing homes are understaffed, which leads to them rushing through training or even neglecting to train employees.
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If you are the victim of nursing home abuse, or you suspect that someone else is being victimized, you can call Adult Protective Services to make a report. You can also file a civil claim to learn whether financial compensation is due.
Being harmed by inadequate care, abuse, or neglect should always be met with a lawsuit. Have a nursing home abuse & neglect lawyer in West Memphis help you learn more about whether the circumstances you or your loved one are in will warrant a legal claim. To get in touch with a West Memphis nursing home abuse & neglect attorney from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC, use the contact form on this page.