Nursing homes are entrusted with caring for loved ones when they can no longer care for themselves, but too often the trust families place in nursing homes is broken. There are almost 1.5 million nursing home residents, and over 20% of residents experience at least one instance of nursing home abuse.[1] This rate of abuse is inexcusable. Nursing homes have a legal obligation and duty to provide quality care to residents.

If your loved one has experienced abuse in a nursing home, Counsel Hound can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

The CDC reports that 1 in 10 people aged 60+ experience some form of abuse, and other studies estimate as many as 5 million elders are abused each year.[2] Elders who experience abuse have a 300% higher risk of death than elders who are not mistreated.[3] The CDC notes that nursing home abuse is often underestimated and underreported.[4]

There are many forms of nursing home abuse, but abuse in any facility depends on the staff’s experience and how the nursing home is managed. Underpaid staff, inexperienced staff, understaffing, and poor management attribute to elder abuse in nursing homes. Understaffing is common in nursing homes: 90% of facilities have insufficient staff levels. One nurse may care for 30 people, but the recommended amount is six patients.

Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse

Physical Abuse is using physical to inflict injury, pain, or impairment.[5]

Sexual Abuse is any non-consensual sexual contact with an elder.

Emotional Abuse is inflicting distress or pain through verbal or non-verbal acts.

Financial Abuse is the unauthorized use of an elder’s funds or assets.

Neglect is failing to complete any obligations or duties to an elder.

 

Examples of Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes:

  • Deliberate physical harm.
    • Slapping, pushing, kicking,
    • Inappropriate restraining (e.g., beds or wheelchairs),
    • Medical sedation not prescribed by a doctor,
    • Falls.

Examples of Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes:

  • Demeaning or ridiculing residents.
  • Forcing residents into social isolation.
    • Preventing family, friends, and fellow residents from visiting.
  • Using threatening language to make the resident comply.

Examples of Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes:

  • Unauthorized use of money and banking.
  • Forging an elder’s signature or coercing them into signing a financial document.
  • Theft of property or money.

Examples of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes:

  • Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact, including rape, fondling, forced nudity, sexual photography, etc.

Examples of Neglect in Nursing Homes:

  • Poor hygiene maintenance.
    • Insufficient or lack of oral/dental care, bathing, etc.
    • Bedsores.
  • Medical-related negligence.
    • Improper or lack of physical exercise.
    • Ignoring prescribed wound care.
    • Not giving prescribed medications according to schedule.
  • Ignoring basic needs.
    • Malnutrition or dehydration.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Signs of Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes:

  • Injuries.
    • Bruises, rope marks, broken or fractured bones, etc.
  • Signs of being restrained.
    • Unexplained bruising.
    • Rope burns or marks.
  • Missing or broken medical devices.
    • Walker, dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids.
  • Laboratory results indicating overdose or underutilization of prescribed drugs.
  • Caregiver refusing to allow the elder to be alone with visitors.
  • Sudden or unusual changes in the elder’s behavior.

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes:

  • Bruising of breasts or genital area.
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
  • Underclothing that is stained, torn, or bloody.
  • Sudden or unusual changes in the elder’s behavior, including new fears of specific caregivers.

Signs of Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes:

  • Withdrawal from normal activities or passions.
  • Unusual social isolation or a decrease in regular communication.
  • Strained relationships with caregivers, fellow residents, family, or friends with no explanation
  • Behavior change:
    • Overly aggressive or compliant.
    • Frequently upset or agitated.

Signs of Financial Exploitation in Nursing Homes:

  • Sudden changes in banking.
    • Unexplained withdrawal of money.
    • New names added to banking information.
    • Unauthorized transfer of assets.
    • Changes to financial documents.
  • Unpaid bills despite financial resources.
  • Signatures on documents that the elder does not recall signing.

Preventing Nursing Home Abuse

It is essential to understand the institutional risk factors that may put your elderly loved one at risk.[6]

Nursing home residents may be at higher risk for abuse if the facility:

  • Does not run proper background checks for staff.
  • Has a high staff turnover rate.
  • Does not have administrative supervision.
  • Has a history of abuse.

Loved ones can help prevent elder abuse in nursing homes by:

  • Understanding the signs of abuse in elders.
  • Researching potential nursing homes for risk factors or histories of abuse.
  • Checking in on their loved one regularly via visits or phone calls.