Many families trust assisted living or long-term care centers to provide excellent healthcare and quality of life for their loved ones. But when people take advantage of your loved one and abuse or neglect them, you need to act quickly. After getting your loved one to a safe environment, you can seek to recover damages with a Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyer from Shrager & Sachs.
We will fight to get your loved one fair compensation for what they’ve been through. They can receive damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and more. We’re determined to protect the seniors of Philadelphia and the greater Pennsylvania area.
The Reality of Nursing Home Abuse
People taking advantage of the elderly is a recurring problem each year. The statistics on elder abuse may be lower than the real amount of abuse that’s occurring because seniors may be too scared or unable to report what’s happening.
- The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reported the Ombudsman program that advocates for seniors received 14,258 complaints about abuse and neglect in 2014.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that hundreds of thousands of seniors over 60 years old are abused, neglected, or financially exploited each year.
Seniors are vulnerable to abuse and they deserve representation that will stand up for their rights. At Shrager & Sachs, we will make sure your loved one’s voice is heard and the people who are responsible will have to answer for their actions.
What Are the Types of Elder Abuse?
Nursing home neglect and abuse can occur in different forms. Residents may be targeted because of their mental and physical states. Many seniors in long-term care communities may have dementia or other forms of memory loss. These people may have a more difficult time fighting back or verbalizing what’s happening to them. The following are forms of elder abuse:
- Shoving, hitting, or gripping too tightly cause physical harm to the resident. Overmedicating and using restraints are also forms of physical abuse that results in dangerous injuries.
- This includes shouting, insulting, or putting down the senior and making them feel terrible and have low self-esteem.
- While similar to emotional, this form of abuse occurs when a caregiver doesn’t acknowledge when a resident speaks or does anything, making them feel isolated.
- Homes may not be able to provide your loved one with the care they need, like making sure they’re regularly hydrating or exercising, and your loved one’s health can suffer because of this.
- Some people may try to take advantage of an elderly person and steal their money. Someone could forge their signature, use the senior’s card without permission, or take money from their wallet.
- This form of abuse is when sexual contact occurs that the resident either didn’t provide or isn’t able to provide explicit consent.
Staff Abuse vs. Resident-On-Resident Abuse
There is more than one party who can perpetrate abuse against senior citizens. In a nursing home, one would usually suspect the staff of being guilty of abuse, but that isn’t always the case. While staff can be negligent or be abusive, there’s also the chance of other residents being abusive.
Resident-on-resident abuse is an issue in nursing homes because it’s difficult to recognize and prove. This is because the issue is not well documented, so it’s understudied. Residents can bully, terrorize, and hurt other residents. Issues can arise between roommates, and residents can make threats or destroy belongings that aren’t theirs.
Abusive residents may be bullying other residents intentionally, but there are situations where they may not be in control of their actions or inhibitions. Those who have memory issues, mood disorders, or have suffered from major medical events like a stroke may have moments where they are angry or upset and resort to shouting insults or profanity, without realizing how their actions impact others.
But no matter how or why the abuse happens, no one deserves this kind of treatment. When long-term care facilities fail to protect their residents, that’s where we come in. The personal injury lawyers at Shrager & Sachs are understanding and compassionate people who won’t stop until your loved one gets justice.
How Does Nursing Home Abuse Happen?
You may be wondering how abuse can occur in the first place. Major issues with skilled nursing facilities revolve around the high turnover rate and understaffing. Nursing homes may not hire enough people to effectively run the home in an attempt to save money. Employees are often overworked and underpaid, which can increase their chances of working while they’re fatigued or frustrated.
When there aren’t enough people on staff, your loved one won’t get the full attention and care they deserve. Residents may need help doing every day tasks like getting dressed, using the restroom, and walking. If they aren’t supervised and not getting the help they need, they may lay in bed all day or attempt to do these tasks on their own and potentially fall and injure themselves. Fall injuries are dangerous for elderly people because the injuries can get infected and it often takes longer for them to recover. Sometimes, falls can be lethal if they don’t get the help they need in time.
Nursing Home Residents’ Rights
We know what your loved one’s rights are when they live in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility in Pennsylvania. Every resident in the home is entitled to:
- Freedom from any form of abuse
- Protected personal information
- Safe and secure living conditions
- Being treated with respect
- Always given information regarding care, treatment, and their living situation
The care institution also is under regulations to provide a duty of care to their residents. Staff must do the following:
- Create an abuse-free environment protected by policies and procedures
- Report allegations of resident abuse and investigate them
- Provide individual care and accommodations tailored to each resident’s specific needs
- Given residents the opportunity to maintain a high quality of life
When a facility fails to take resident’s abuse allegations seriously or denies them any of their rights, they need to be held accountable for their actions. Our lawyers will investigate your loved one’s case, see if any of their rights were violated, and determine who is liable.
The Symptoms of Elder Abuse
Nursing home abuse symptoms can present in a number of ways. Some may think that a resident is acting a certain way if they have memory loss or have had health complications in the past. But if the change seems sudden and if they haven’t had a medical event, there’s a chance the symptoms are indicative of abuse.
- Unexplained Injuries. Physical injuries like broken bones, welts, and bruises could be evidence of abuse. While an occasional bump and bruise isn’t anything to worry about, noticing injuries on a regular basis isn’t normal.
- Change in Mood. Your loved one may show a sudden change in demeanor. If they don’t seem like themselves, something more could be going on.
- Withdrawn. If your loved one is usually present and aware when you visit and now seems like they’re completely zoned out, this could be a sign of overmedication, a form of abuse that makes senior citizens easier to control.
- Easily Agitated. While those with memory loss can get agitated, a sudden switch to an agitated state that doesn’t seem like how your loved one usually behaves can show that something is wrong.
- Malnutrition and Dehydration. Seniors need to have healthy, nutritious meals and constant hydration to maintain their wellbeing. Sudden weakness or fatigue could be signs that your loved one isn’t getting enough nutritious food or water.
- Poor Living Conditions. Your loved one should be in clean clothes, fresh bedsheets, and their room should be clean as well. If you notice your loved one in dirty or soiled clothes or bedsheets, the home may be neglecting them.
If elder abuse continues for too long, your loved one’s health can rapidly decline. Sometimes, elder abuse can cause death. If your loved one has passed unexpectedly and you suspect abuse, our wrongful death lawyers can help you with your claim.
How Do You Recognize Nursing Home Abuse?
Apart from recognizing symptoms of abuse, what are other indicators that your loved one isn’t in a healthy environment? There are a few major red flags you can see when you’re visiting your loved one.
- Unhygienic Environment. The nursing home should be clean. While occasional spills or accidents do happen, these are supposed to be dealt with as soon as possible. A home with a foul odor and obvious lack of upkeep is a dangerous environment because it will be easier for illness to spread.
- Visitors Need Supervision. You should be able to visit your loved one without a staff member supervising the entire interaction. A situation where it seems like you can’t speak to your loved one by themselves is suspicious.
- Speaking to Other Residents or Families. While you’re visiting, see what other residents and their families think about the care they’re receiving. You may get more information about the quality of care in the nursing home.
You may want to visit your loved one at uncommon times, so you can see what the home is like outside of peak visiting hours. Your chances of catching signs of abuse may be greater because there won’t be a crowd of visitors.
What to Do If Your Loved One Is Being Abused
If your loved one is being abused in their nursing home, your first priority is going to be getting them into a safe environment. It’s important to remember that there are plenty of services that will help you and your loved one.
You can contact a Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocate, for those who live in assisted living communities and facilities. Their priority is making sure senior citizens are getting the care they need and are in safe and healthy environments. The Ombudsman program isn’t funded or run by nursing homes, so there is no incentive for them to ignore your loved one’s complaints against the institution.
You can also file a complaint with your state about how your loved one was treated at their nursing home. This alerts the state’s department of health that there is a potentially abusive environment for senior citizens.
Depending on what has happened, your loved one’s abuse may have occurred with intent from the abuser. This may be considered a crime. While contacting services to help your loved one, you may also want to call the police.
How Can a Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help You?
When your loved one has suffered because of elder abuse, you can make sure they get justice. Our skilled attorneys will do everything to get your loved one the compensation they deserve. Your actions may also spark change within the long term care facility, so policies and procedures are implemented that ensure this never happens again.
We’re ready to help you. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation, free of charge.