It’s horrifying to think that a loved one has abused or neglected in a nursing home.
According to the National Elder Abuse Center, approximately 10% of elderly Americans have experienced abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect:
- 5 million elderly individuals experience abuse every year;
- 1 in 10 people over the age of 60 have experienced abuse; and,
- 25% of residents suffered at least one instance of physical abuse in the nursing home
These figures are low because many victims are can’t or won’t report their abuse.
If your loved one has been mistreated by caregivers, file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Community Health.
Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
There are three types of conduct that qualify to file a claim for nursing home abuse. These descriptions and examples can help you see the signs that your loved one is suffering from nursing home misconduct.
Physical acts of violence are the most obvious form of nursing home abuse. It may also include the use of restraints, such as straps or shackles. Georgia nursing home laws prohibit physical restraints unless:
- A physician gives written authorization before enforcing the practice;
- The document includes a specified time frame and the reasons for restraints; and,
- All other methods have been tried to stop the resident from being a threat to themselves and/or others.
Examples of Physical Abuse
Some signs of physical mistreatment that you should watch for are:
- Strap marks around the wrists or ankles;
- Cuts or wounds;
- Unexplained injuries;
- Broken bones; and,
- Head injuries.
Unfortunately, sexual abuse also happens too often in nursing homes. Take action if your loved one gets a sexually transmitted disease, urinary tract infection, or other genital injuries.
Emotional mistreatment can lead to serious harm to a resident. It is especially harmful to those who have Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. The challenge is being able to identify the signs, which may be less visible.
Signs of Emotional Mistreatment:
- Changes in mood or behavior;
- Angry or emotional outbursts;
- Noticeable fear or cowering;
- Extreme advance of dementia;
- Name calling or threats by a caregiver;
- Your loved one becoming quiet or withdrawn; and,
- Any other signs that make you suspicious about mistreatment.
A caregiver might not want to leave you alone with your loved one because they fear that the resident will tell you about misconduct. This is another important sign.
People with dementia are especially vulnerable to financial abuse. Financial exploitation may be stealing from your loved one or intimidation and threats.
Examples of Financial Misconduct
Take action right away if you notice any foul play in your loved one’s finances, such as:
- Inability to pay bills when you know they should have the money;
- Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts;
- Unfamiliar signatures in checks, titles to real estate, wills, and other important documents;
- Changes to the person chosen under a power of attorney;
- Changes to a will, trust, or other estate planning documents;
- Signing up for subscriptions or unnecessary services; and,
- Other signs that affect your loved one’s financial affairs.
If you notice any these signs or get suspicious, contact an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer right away.
Nursing Home Neglect
Negligence is as harmful to a nursing home resident as misconduct.
Many nursing homes are understaffed. Carelessness in keeping up the facility, hiring employees, training workers, watching residents, and supplying services is common.
There are ways to spot the signs of neglect. Contact nursing home lawyers if you see:
- Dirtiness, filth, and disorganization in common areas, a resident’s room, and outdoor spaces;
- Strong smells of feces, urine, or vomit;
- Dirty beds or clothing;
- Unlocked doors;
- Errors in providing medications; and,
- Other clues that the facility isn’t operated properly.
Your Rights as a Victim or Loved One
Your loved one has legal rights, but it may be up to you or a family member to seek solutions under Georgia law. With the help of nursing home lawyers, you can file a lawsuit to get compensation for your loved one’s losses. The nature of the case depends on the type of misconduct. There are different types of proof if the claim is based on intentional abuse or neglect.
If successful, you can recover:
- The costs of medical care to treat the victim’s injuries or emotional scars;
- Losses to pay back stolen money through financial exploitation;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Losses based on your loved one’s personal relationships; and,
- Many other types of monetary damages.
You may be able to get punitive damages if there is intentional misconduct or negligence. This type of damages will punish the offender for abusive acts.
Discuss Your Claim with an Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
You can file a mistreatment complaint, it’s important to hold people accountable for nursing home abuse and neglect.
To learn more about rights and remedies for your loved one, contact Wade Injury Law. We will set up a free consultation with a nursing home abuse attorney.