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When you move a loved one to a nursing home, you expect the nursing home will treat them with the respect and professionalism they deserve. However, nursing home abuse and neglect are problems plaguing facilities across the country.

Do you know what to do if you suspect abuse in a nursing home? Taking the proper steps can help keep your family members safe and the nursing home from harming someone else.

What to Do If You suspect Abuse in a Nursing Home

At Gerling Law, our nursing home attorneys have years of experience with suspected abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Here are the steps you need to take when you suspect something is going on: 

  1. Remain calm. It’s easy to lash out and lose your temper. However, remaining calm is vital as you need to keep a level head when attempting to resolve this situation.
  2. Speak to the nursing staff about red flags and suspected signs of abuse before proceeding with other actions. If you don’t get a satisfactory response, look at more formal action.
  3. Talk with your family member privately, if possible. In some cases, family members are unable to communicate and may not be able to tell you what’s happening.
  4. Watch everything going on when you visit and take notes. If possible, get photos of injuries or things that stick out, like unsanitary conditions.
  5. Contact the police right away if your loved one is in immediate danger.
  6. Report any suspected nursing home abuse or neglect to the proper legal authorities.

When you suspect nursing home abuse, it’s essential to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer right away. Please don’t wait around to see what happens, as it’s crucial to stop the abuse before it happens again.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Nursing home abuse is one type of elder abuse. Patients in nursing homes who are mistreated, neglected, or receive substandard care can be elder abuse victims. Nursing home staff have a duty to protect and take care of their residents. Failure to do so is a breach of duty, and the nursing home can be held accountable.

What Causes Nursing Home Abuse?

Numerous factors can lead to nursing home abuse. Staff turnover is typically high in nursing homes, and many facilities are understaffed. It is a stressful job, and staff members are often overwhelmed and overworked. Unfortunately, some staff members take out those frustrations on the residents. Lack of adequate training is also a common problem that can lead to neglect and abuse.

It’s important to point out that nursing home abuse is not limited to staff either. While less common, residents are at risk for abuse from visitors to the nursing home facility. If the staff is not properly supervising residents, they can still be held accountable.

What Are the Six Types of Elder Abuse?

It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the six main types of elder abuse so you can look out for signs of abuse and neglect in a nursing home.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves threatening to inflict or inflicting injury or physical pain on a nursing home resident. It can also include depriving the person of a basic need, such as purposely withholding food. Potential signs include unexplained injuries, bruises, sprains, broken bones, marks on the wrists that suggest the use of restraints, etc.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse includes inflicting  mental pain, distress, or anguish on an elderly person through verbal or non-verbal actions. Actions can include intimidation, insults, threats, name-calling, and more.

Potential warning signs to look for in your family member include being suddenly depressed or withdrawn, isolation, mood swings, appearing scared, and a change in sleeping patterns.

Sexual Abuse

It’s hard to fathom that sexual abuse is a problem in nursing homes. While not as common as physical or emotional abuse, it does happen. Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual act coercing or forcing someone to witness or participate in sexual activity.

Elders who cannot communicate for themselves, have a disability that prevents them from consenting, or have Alzheimer’s or dementia are more at risk. Warning signs of sexual abuse in a nursing home include bruises on inner thighs or genitals, bleeding or pain in the genital area, torn or bloody underwear, panic attacks, and sudden withdrawal.

Neglect or Abandonment by Caregivers

When someone fails to provide necessary care, shelter, food, or protection, it can be considered neglect. Neglect is more than a mistake or accident; it is rooted in carelessness and disregard for the resident’s wellbeing. Examples can include failure to provide hygiene, clothing, essential activities, etc.

Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation is also a common problem with elders, especially in nursing homes. This type of elder abuse involves the unauthorized or illegal use of a person’s financial resources. Someone in a trusting relationship with the victim could take property, get ahold of their ATM card and withdraw funds, coerce them to change their will, and more.

Healthcare Fraud and Abuse

When a nursing home employee mistreats a patient and then submits the payment of a claim for the services involved, it can fall under health care fraud. For example, a staff member may abuse a patient and then submit a claim to the resident’s insurance for the treatment required to treat their injuries.

Other examples include medical identity theft, billing for services not provided, charging for medical equipment not received, and counterfeit prescription drugs.

How Much Is a Nursing Home Neglect Case Worth?

Without knowing the facts yet, it’s impossible to estimate what your nursing home neglect case is worth. We evaluate each case individually. Because no two cases are alike, no two settlements are precisely the same. Once we learn more about the type and extent of your family member’s injuries, we can provide you with an accurate evaluation.

How a Nursing Home Attorney Can Help

An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help you recognize the warning signs of abuse and help you get the compensation your family is owed. Gerling Law has been fighting for victims of nursing home abuse for decades. We have over 50 years of experience representing injured clients in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

If you believe your family member is the victim of nursing home abuse, don’t wait to call our skilled legal team. Contact our office right away to set up an initial consultation. Remember, Go with Experience. Go with Gerling.®

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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