When we admit a loved spouse, family member, relative or friend to a nursing home, it may or may not have been their choice. No matter how the decision came to be, they will likely spend the remainder of their days in that nursing home or assisted living facility (ASF). You expect orderlies, nurses and administrators to follow the proper guidelines and treat your loved one and all other patients respectfully and appropriately.
Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Many long-term care facilities are wrought with abuse on an administrative level or amongst the care staff.
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, abusive or potentially abusive incidents increased by nearly 11% between 2013 and 2017.
The Associated Press found that in 2016 alone, 6,600 long-term care abuse or neglect cases went unreported to the proper authorities. Also, the National Research Council discovered that only one in every 14 cases of suspected abuse is reported.
Common sign of abuse
Every state in the country has resources and agencies dedicated to helping long-term care residents or their loved ones file complaints of possible verbal, emotional, physical, sexual or financial abuse. However, abuse can be challenging to spot, especially if the resident or fearful of speaking up or showing you their wounds.
Common indicators of possible abuse include:
- Flushed bank accounts or odd transactions
- Unresponsive or wary resident around specific administrators, nurses or orderlies
- Genital wounds or bruises
- Unexplainable sickness of infection
If a resident is wary of any long-term care staff, take their insecurities to heart. They are likely not making up these claims.
To help justify your abuse complaint, monitor and document your loved one’s behavior and changes that catch you off-guard. Also, take pictures and record videos of any bruises or injuries and feel free to speak to other residents or staff who interact with your loved one as they may offer valuable information.
Where should I report the possible abuse?
While all healthcare professionals are required by law to report abuse, that doesn’t always happen. As a friend, relative, family member or spouse, it’s crucial to be proactive by contacting the proper authorities.
If you suspect or are told by the elder that their life is in danger, call 911 as an emergency call dispatches a quick medical response and alerts law enforcement of possible abuse on staff and administrative level.
In the event of a non-life-threatening incident, you can contact a senior advocacy agency, a specific medical expert to examine your loved one, a long-term care ombudsman, or an attorney specializing in nursing home and ALF abuse. An ombudsman or attorney will serve as an advocate for the abused elder when filing their complaint, but an attorney will have a much firmer grasp of the laws and penalties associated with elder abuse.