Whether as the result of a stroke or a progressive condition, such as Alzheimer's disease, many adults face the difficult decision of placing their parent in a nursing home. You do that because you want them to be safe, cared for, and have the best quality of life possible.
Sadly, in some cases, those living in nursing homes may be subject to elder abuse by those who are charged with caring for them. Even if you do your best to find a safe nursing home, it can still happen. If you have reason to believe that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home or extended care facility, take action immediately!
What are the signs of elder abuse?
Like child and spousal abuse, there are many forms of elder abuse. They range from simple neglect to financial, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Neglect is often caused by undertrained care providers or understaffed facilities, and the signs of it can include dehydration or hunger, bed sores, or recurring infections that should be preventable. Physical abuse can range from pushing and shoving to pinching, slapping, or punching. Signs of physical abuse include unexplainable bruises, broken bones, contusions, abrasions, and other visible injuries.
Financial abuse typically involves either a staff member stealing from or extorting someone, or tricking those who are mentally compromised into giving them money or other assets. Emotional and sexual abuse can be harder to identify. Signs can range from withdrawing from socialization and changed in behavior to hypervigilance and visible fear. Those who bully and sexually abuse adults in their care may target those who are non-verbal or mentally compromised, making it easier for them to get away with their horrific crimes against your loved one.
What to do if you suspect your parent is being abused
First, if you are able, speak with your parent in private to see if they can provide insight. If they claim they are being abused, take steps to verify their claims and document anything you can. You may wish to contact Adult Protective Services to open an investigation into the facility. It is best to remove your loved one from the facility as soon as possible. You should also speak with an experienced personal injury or medical malpractice attorney to see what other options are available.
In some cases, it may be in your family's best interest to file a civil suit. Not only is there the possibility of receiving financial recompense for the injury to your parent, it also holds the facility responsible. In extreme cases, there could even be criminal charges brought against the staff member(s) responsible for the neglect and abuse of your parent. An experienced attorney can review the details of your situation and advise your family about the best way to proceed.