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Aventura Nursing Home Abuse Blog

Why don't the elderly report abuse or neglect?

If you have a loved one who needs help from an assisted-living facility, the last thing you want to find out is that they've been a victim of neglect or abuse. When you choose an assisted-living property for your loved one, you assume that the people there will care for them as if they're family.

Sadly, the truth is that there is no way to guarantee your loved one will be cared for properly. Many elderly people suffer from abuse and neglect. Even though some could report it, they don't always as a result of:

  • Embarrassment
  • Confusion
  • Isolation
  • Threats
  • Anxiety or depression

Injuries really are more serious for the elderly

When an elderly person suffers injuries of any kind, it really is more serious than when the same thing happens to a younger person. Even an injury that a young person would think of as relatively minor can have a drastic impact on an elderly person's life.

One reason for this change is that wound healing is much different for the elderly. Some of the major changes include:

  • The healing process becomes slower than it used to be.
  • Diseases are more common.
  • Infections may be more likely or take longer to heal.
  • The elderly person's inflammatory response decreases.
  • The same is true for the proliferative response.
  • Collagen still forms, but it is of a lower quality.
  • Aging impacts all phases of wound healing.

Risk factors of nursing home abuse

It is a sad reality that elder abuse can happen to anyone, including nursing home residents. Everyone hopes that the staff members will provide proper care and keep patients safe. But abuse in these institutions is far too common. The World Health Organization says that two in three staffers at long-term care facilities report committing abuse in the past year.

While there is always a potential for elder abuse, some circumstances make it more likely. Here are some common risk factors and causes.

A wrongful-death lawsuit holds a nursing home accountable

Nursing home abuse and neglect are two things that you never want to have to deal with. When you entrust your loved one's care to another party, you expect that they will provide fair services to your loved ones and help when it's needed. After all, that's what nurses and providers are paid to do.

Nothing can prepare you for the shock of finding out that your loved one has passed away as a result of abuse in a nursing facility. At that point, there is nothing else you can do to help them -- but you do have the option of holding the nursing home accountable for its actions. Even if it's only a single employee who was hurting your loved one, the nursing home has to take responsibility.

Chemical restraints unnecessarily used on seniors

Caring for seniors is a special opportunity that is not suitable for everyone. Sometimes, caregivers cannot rise to the occasion.

In such cases, some caregivers may utilize unscrupulous tactics, such as unnecessary chemical restraints. There are a few important things to understand about this action.

Slow response times are a serious issue

Nursing homes and assisted living centers can be very busy places. The staff has a lot to do, and due to low wages and difficult tasks, these institutions are often understaffed.

That said, the staff has to respond promptly whenever a call light comes on. Elderly residents often have no way to move on their own, let alone perform complex actions like taking a shower or making food. Many struggle just to get out of bed or use the restroom on their own. They need that support staff.

Can you recognize assisted-living abuse or neglect?

In an assisted-living facility, most residents won't need as much help as elders in nursing homes or similar medical facilities. Most assisted-living facility residents can do some tasks on their own, but they may need help with others. For example, your mom or dad might be able to get around well, but they may struggle to remember to take medications on time or to clean as well as they used to.

In assisted living, the expectation is that the staff will provide the services that they've offered. There may be a schedule, for instance, which shows that a nurse will check in three days a week to help with showers and hygiene or that a cleaning crew will come to your loved one's room every few days to make sure the home isn't messy.

Why do the elderly suffer more from financial abuse?

The elderly are certainly at risk when it comes to financial abuse. A lot of scams specifically target them. One part of the reason is that they often have excess money -- you can't scam someone who doesn't have what you want -- and scammers target their life savings. Another part of the issue, though, is that they really are more susceptible.

There are numerous reasons for this. One, of course, is that elderly individuals may have some level of cognitive impairment. For many, it's just part of aging. They have trouble with their memory or they have degenerative brain diseases. Those who want to financially abuse them use these things to their advantage.

Abuse and neglect can't be ignored: Protect an elder's rights

In nursing homes, there are two negative things that can happen: abuse and neglect. Abuse is typically seen as an intentional act, whereas neglect occurs because an elder is not being treated or taken care of due to oversights or mistakes. However, the terms can actually be interchanged and may refer to the same kinds of situations.

What are some common kinds of nursing home abuse and neglect?

Tips for talking to an elderly parent about abuse or neglect

It can be difficult to talk to the elderly. Even when you love them dearly and you want to spend time with them, you may find some serious roadblocks that make you feel like a deep, meaningful conversation is impossible.

This is dangerous, though, because the elderly person may not bring up things like neglect or even abuse in a nursing home. The best way to learn what's really going on is to engage in these conversations. How can you do that? Here are a few tips:

  • Talk slowly and distinctly
  • Do not be afraid to repeat yourself
  • Use short sentences
  • Focus on one topic before moving to the next
  • Show them that you're listening.
  • Consider mental disorders, degenerative brain diseases and other issues that come along with aging.
  • Never be condescending.
  • Avoid getting frustrated, and control your emotions.
  • Stress that you love them, even when asking hard questions.
  • Find an environment for your conversation where they feel comfortable.
  • Get rid of outside distractions, like the TV or the radio.
  • Remember that you may need to express things differently or pick different words to get them to open up.
  • Try to take an optimistic approach, even when you're worried.
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