Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
Placing an elderly family member in the care of a nursing home is a very hard decision. Families often spend a lot of time researching and visiting facilities in order to find the best home for their family member. Numerous hours can be dedicated to finding the best choice of nursing home due to a number of high profile nursing home abuse cases that have been consistently highlighted in the media.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are about 16,000 nursing homes with 1.7 million beds in the United States. Over 550,000 elders over the age of 60 have experienced some form of abuse or neglect within these facilities.
Nursing home neglect, or elder neglect, commonly occurs when a resident does not receive proper medical, physical, or emotional care. As a result of this neglect, nursing home abuse victims suffer greatly. Sometimes neglect can lead to physical or emotional abuse.
When your elder family member is placed in the hands of another, you expect them to be well taken care of. If a loved one has experienced nursing home neglect or abuse, call Illinois nursing home abuse lawyer Christopher Dixon for a FREE case consultation at 312-600-8054 or 855-402-7274 (toll free).
Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
Elder abuse is any abuse or neglect of persons aged 60 or older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving the expectation of trust. Forms of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical abuse occurs when an elder is injured by his or her caregiver. Examples include scratching, hitting, slapping, pushing, assaulting with a weapon, or improper restraint. Signs of physical abuse include cuts, bruises, broken bones, broken eyeglasses, and sudden behavioral changes, such as refusal to see visitors.
- Sexual abuse is any sexual contact against an elder’s will. Sexual abuse includes acts in which the elder is unable to understand the act or communicate, such as inappropriate touching. Signs of sexual abuse include unexplained anal or vaginal bleeding, torn or bloody undergarments, and unexplained venereal disease.
- Emotional abuse occurs after an elder has been exposed to threats or coercive tactics. Examples include humiliation, embarrassment, controlling behavior, social isolation, or damaging property. Signs of emotional abuse include withdrawal, agitation, and a non-responsive persona.
- Neglect occurs when the caregiver refuses to provide for the elder’s basic needs. Examples include withholding food, not providing adequate hygiene assistance, clothing, shelter, or access to proper medical care. Signs of neglect include sudden weight loss, overall change in appearance due to dehydration and malnutrition, bedsores, unsanitary living conditions, and untreated medical problems.
- Abandonment is the willful desertion of an elderly person by a caregiver. Signs of abandonment include the elderly individual roaming the street or other public places.
- Financial abuse or exploitation occurs when the elderly persons monetary resources are used improperly. Examples include forgery, theft of money or possessions, or the use of coercion to surrender finances or property. Signs of exploitation include large sums of money being withdrawn from a bank account, strange use of the elder’s ATM card, and forged signatures on financial or estate planning documents.
If your elderly family member shows signs of any of the above abuse or neglect while living in a nursing home, the first thing to do is start asking them questions if they are able to talk. If you have a bad feeling about your family member’s treatment in a nursing home, trust your instincts and report the abuse.
How to Report Elder Abuse and Neglect
If you suspect your elderly family member has been abused or neglected, it’s important to report it immediately. The CDC estimates that nearly 80 percent of elder abuse and neglect incidents go unreported.
To report elder abuse or neglect in Illinois, contact your local Adult Protective Services agency. You do not have to prove that abuse or neglect is occurring; it’s up to the professionals to investigate the claims being made. If someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. We all have a duty to protect our vulnerable, elderly family members from nursing home abuse and neglect.
Illinois Nursing Home Laws
The Nursing Home Care Act protects nursing home residents in Illinois. In this act, nursing home owners are legally liable to residents for any negligence or abuse inflicted by their employees. Also, if a nursing home resident or his or her representative brings a legal claim against a nursing home, the nursing home is barred from retaliation. Further, any employee of a nursing home that witnesses abuse or neglect is responsible for reporting the matter to the facility administrator. The facility administrator is responsible for informing the resident’s representative and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.
When a report of abuse or neglect is filed, the employee involved is to be barred from any further contact with the nursing home residents until an investigation has been completed.
If a loved one has died as the result of abuse or neglect while in a nursing home, the family is entitled to reimbursement for their loss under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. A nursing home wrongful death case will help the family with funeral and burial expenses, as well as reimbursement for suffering caused by the loss of your loved one. In addition, it will ensure changes are made at the facility and other residents are protected.
Legal Help for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
If a loved one has been subjected to abuse or neglect in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, they are entitled to reimbursement for their harms and losses. These may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, future medical care, assisted living costs, and punitive damages. It is important that all cases of elder abuse are reported to stop the abuse and also to make sure others do not experience the same mistreatment.
Nursing home abuse lawyer Chris Dixon has helped abuse and neglect victims seek reimbursement for their injuries. The National Trial Lawyer’s Association recognizes Chris as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer for his compassionate and aggressive legal representation. For a FREE nursing home abuse consultation, call 855-402-7274 (toll free).