Elderly people are vulnerable and get taken advantage of in many ways. Nursing home abuse is one of the worst examples of this. Entrusting the care of a loved one to a nursing home requires a great deal of confidence in the staff and the facility managers. Some people take advantage of the trust families give them. Any type of abuse of a loved one by someone at his or her nursing home, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or financial abuse, must be stopped immediately. If you have a loved one in Montana nursing home and you think someone is abusing or neglecting him or her, contact the nursing home abuse attorneys at Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. for help.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics in the United States
Caregivers have mistreated 1 to 2 million people over the age of 65 in the United States. However, it is estimated that people report only one of every 14 incidents of nursing home abuse to authorities. Physical abuse is the most common abuse reported. People older than 80 and people suffering from dementia are at the highest risk of suffering abuse. Of patients with dementia, 47% have suffered some type of abuse. A study of 2,000 nursing homes revealed that approximately 44% of elderly people suffer nursing home abuse and 95% of the cases of abuse go unreported.
Types and Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse in Montana
The first indication of nursing home abuse is a seemingly inexplicable change in your loved one’s mood or demeanor. If your loved one is more depressed or irritable than usual and is reluctant to discuss what’s going on, you are right to wonder why. Along with general changes in mood, there are more specific signs of abuse.
The first type of nursing home abuse is physical abuse, which can have many possible symptoms. Some indicators include:
- Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations that he or she cannot explain
- Bruising, scars, or welts
- Signs of restraint such as rope burns or marks on his or her wrists
- Failing to take his or her medication
- Broken glasses
- The caregiver refusing to let you be alone with your loved one
Another type of abuse an elderly person might suffer is emotional abuse. Symptoms of emotional abuse include:
- Unusual behavior including the symptoms of dementia (mumbling, sucking his or her thumb, or rocking)
- Seeing the caregiver threaten, belittle, or exhibit controlling behavior toward your loved one
Nursing home abuse can also manifest in sexual abuse.
Some of the indicators that your loved one may be experiences sexual abuse are:
- Inexplicable sexually transmitted diseases
- Genital infections
- Bruising or marks near the genitals or breasts
- Stained, bloody, or torn underwear
- Vaginal or anal bleeding not caused by a preexisting medical condition
Nursing home residents may suffer from caregiver neglect. Though neglect is not as direct as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, it can be just as serious.
Caregiver neglect occurs when the elderly person is:
- Left alone in a public place
- Living in unsafe, dirty, or unreasonably poor conditions
- Dressed poorly for the weather
- Not being bathed or being bathed inadequately
- Experiencing bed sores
- Experiencing unusual weight loss or dehydration
Elderly people can also be subject to financial abuse. Elderly people can be especially vulnerable to financial abuse, because they often are not able to keep as careful track of their finances as they once were, trusting family and caregivers to take care of their financial situations.
Symptoms of financial abuse include:
- Inexplicable changes in his or her financial situation
- Unexplained withdrawals
- Changes in power of attorney, life insurance, property titles, or wills
- Missing cash
- Added names to his or her credit card
- ATM withdrawals that he or she could not have made
- Unusual payments
Failure to Restrain
One type of nursing home abuse is neglecting care. People in nursing homes often need assistance in many different aspects of their daily lives. Restraint is a controversial and tricky subject in conversations about nursing home treatment. When a patient is a danger to him or herself or to others, the staff must exercise good judgment in deciding the extent of restraint to use. Most nursing homes try to use physical restraints as little as possible, as restraints can be physically and emotionally painful for the resident. Either overuse of restraints or failing to use restraints when called for are both forms of abuse. If a resident is hurting him or herself or others and staff members ignore it, they are exposing the residents and staff to potential physical harm.
Bedsores commonly develop when a person who is confined to bed has been left in the same position too long. They occur from constant pressure on the same area of the body, leading to tissue damage. If a resident in a nursing home has difficulty with mobility, he or she may need a staff member to help move so that he or she does not develop painful bedsores. If a resident develops bedsores, the staff is neglecting him or her because they are failing to do what is necessary by helping the resident move to a different position on a regular schedule. The nursing home staff has the duty to keep residents as safe, healthy, and happy as possible. Caretaker neglect is a form of nursing home abuse.
Every year, 36% of nursing home residents injure themselves by falling. An average-sized nursing home reports 200 falls every year. Injuries from falls can range from a bruise to some broken bones or worse. However, nursing home staff members are required to do everything they can to prevent residents from falling. If they do not clean up a spill, fail to fix unstable stairs, or if they fail to remedy any other potentially dangerous condition, they are neglecting the residents.
Dehydration and Malnutrition
Some elderly people struggle with remembering to drink and eat an adequate amount. The nursing home is responsible for making sure that residents are drinking enough water and eating enough food. If the resident shows signs of suffering from dehydration or malnutrition, it is the responsibility of the nursing home staff to be aware of the condition and to do whatever it takes to make sure make sure the resident is eating and drinking enough.
Physical and sexual assaults are serious offenses in any circumstances. Assaults on elderly people in nursing homes by members of the staff are one of the worst forms of abuse. There is no circumstance that justifies a caregiver taking advantage of his or her power to assault a resident. Assault is a very severe form of nursing home abuse.
Often, a nursing home resident is on one or more medications. Many residents struggle with remembering to take their medications and remembering how much they are supposed to take. The nursing home staff is responsible for making sure that each resident takes the correct type and dose of his or her medication. It can be serious to miss a dose or take the wrong dose, sometimes even leading to death. It is vital that caregivers are attentive and careful about medications. Failing to help residents with their medications is a form of caregiver neglect.
Who Is Liable?
If someone at a nursing home is abusing your loved one, you have the right to file a claim against the nursing home. However, it can be difficult to prove nursing home abuse. Many of the elderly victims have a hard time identifying if a caregiver is abusing them and may not know how to communicate it to authorities. It is important that you keep an eye out for the signs, because it is possible that someone at a nursing home is abusing your loved one and he or she is not telling you.
If you want to file a claim against a nursing home, you must prove that the home had a duty to keep your loved one safe, that it breached that duty and the nursing home’s breach of duty directly caused your loved one’s injuries. You can help prove that the nursing home staff is abusing your loved one with photos of bruises, marks, and other physical signs of abuse. An attorney can be an invaluable ally in proving that abuse has occurred by calling on a network of medical consultants who can determine if abuse has taken place.
What Damages Can I Recover?
The court can award your loved one damages for any financial burdens caused by abuse sustained in the nursing home. Some of the financial expenses the court could compensate your loved one for include:
- Value of stolen or damaged property
- Medical expenses due to damage caused by the nursing home
- Fees for mental health professionals or therapy required because of the abuse
- Relocation expenses
- Legal fees
- Physical rehabilitation
The court could award damages to cover almost any expenses incurred because of the damage he or she suffered from the nursing home abuse.
Montana Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If your loved one is experiencing abuse in his or her nursing home in Montana, you need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer who will fight for your family. The attorneys at Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. have helped people all over Montana recover from a wide variety of wrongful events. Our determined and compassionate lawyers have established a track record of success with even the most difficult and complex cases. We can offer you a free consultation, so you can meet our team before deciding if we are the right team to represent you and your loved one. We charge on a contingency fee basis, which means we will not charge you anything unless we win your case. Contact Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. for aggressive representation. We will do everything that we can to get you all the compensation you deserve.