One sad reality is that many elderly people are abused. However, some people are unaware that nursing home abuse happens and that nursing homes can be held accountable for it. According to the American Psychological Association, research has found that about 1 to 2 million people in the U.S. who are age 65 or older have been neglected or abused by people whom are supposed to provide care and protection.
KBA Attorneys can offer advice to people and their loved ones who suffer from elder neglect and abuse. Read on to learn more about the various types of nursing home abuse.
1. Emotional Abuse
A person experiencing nursing home emotional abuse will show signs of pain or distress. The abuser may harm the victim verbally. For instance, insulting, making threats, and harassing elderly people are all forms of emotional abuse. Some abusers keep the victim away from his or her loved ones, which makes the victim feel powerless and ensures that others won’t intervene. An elderly person may also feel as if he or she cannot upset the abuser for fear of retaliation or further mistreatment. This causes psychological damage.
2. Physical Abuse
Nursing home physical abuse is best defined as using physical force against someone with the intent of hurting the person. Physical abuse may involve striking someone with hands or feet, but some abusers use objects to inflict pain. Other forms of physical abuse include shoving, burning, scratching, pinching, and biting. Using physical restraints on someone can also be considered abusive. In some cases, an abuser withholds medicine from the victim or uses the medicine in a physically harmful way.
Signs of elder physical abuse are as follows:
- Skin dislocation
- Broken bones
- Lacerations and unexplained cuts
Wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather may also be an indicator of physical abuse. In such cases, a victim may wear long sleeves in hot weather to hide wounds or physical markings. Sometimes the victim may appear to be afraid of or intimidated by the abuser. In such cases, an elderly person may show signs of nervousness or dread.
The abuser will sometimes refuse to let the victim’s loved ones see the victim. This is done to keep loved ones from observing the signs of nursing home physical abuse. It is normal for an elderly person to bruise easily or sometimes suffer a fall. However, caregivers and loved ones should be suspicious of any unexplained physical markings, wounds, cuts or bone fractures. Questioning elderly people and their caregivers can most often help loved ones determine the cause of injuries.
3. Sexual Abuse
Nursing home sexual abuse of the elderly involves non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual abuse is not limited to only sexual assault or rape. Unwanted touching and sodomy are also forms of elder sexual abuse. Having sexual intercourse with a person who is physically and/or verbally unable to give consent is also abuse. Some signs of elder sexual abuse include:
- Bruising on genitals or breasts
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Bleeding from the genitals
- Anal bleeding
- Complaints from the victim
Sexual abuse victims might be reticent to talk about the abuse, although some elderly people will report that they have been taken advantage of. In many cases, the elderly person is infirm or mute, which makes it difficult to report the abuse due to communication barriers.
4. Financial Abuse
Nursing home financial abuse involves misusing or stealing a person’s financial resources, including money and other assets. For instance, some abusers may take money from an elderly person’s account(s) or forge the victim’s signature. Other types of elder financial abuse are as follows:
- Victim is coerced into signing documents or checks
- Abuser steals property from an elder
- Abuser takes advantage of his or her power of attorney rights
- Abuser uses victim’s bank card when unauthorized to do so
- Abuser changes the victim’s legal documents without permission (ie. wills, financial documents)
A financial abuser may try to hide signs of the abuse. However, there are typically some telltale signs. For instance, large amounts of money being withdrawn from an account is one sign. Other signs include valuable items inexplicably disappearing or financial transactions that give assets to the caregiver or unauthorized family members. In some cases, family members claim property or assets belonging to an elderly person. This is considered elder abuse if these family members have no legal right to the property or assets or if the abuser gains the property by dubious means.
Negligence is probably the most common type of abuse. In nursing home negligence cases, an elderly person is not necessarily being physically abused, but the effects of neglect can be just as damaging. In some cases, a caregiver will neglect to give the elderly person adequate care, even though the family can afford to.
Every person deserves to live a comfortable life. However, in cases where people are neglected, the victim is denied the right to live comfortably. Some signs of abuse and neglect in elderly are:
- Nursing home bedsores
- Unsanitary living conditions / poor personal hygiene
- Untreated medical problems/denial of medications or other medical necessities
- Lack of adequate food and water
- Lack of running water or electricity
- Lack of heating or cooling in the domicile
Recognizing the signs of elder abuse is often quite easy. If the elderly person complains about his or her living conditions, chances are he or she is being neglected. The physical signs of neglect are often obvious. For instance, someone who has bed sores from not being cared for properly may be an abuse victim.
Here is a list of things you can do to help prevent elderly abuse:
- Question caregivers. If they cannot account for physical harm to your loved one or any change in the elderly person’s attitude or appearance, investigate further.
- Keep an eye on your loved one’s financial records. Protest any questionable transactions.
- Make yourself active in your loved one’s medical care. Make sure that all doctors appointments are scheduled and attended.
- Talk to your loved ones regularly.
File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
Elderly abuse is a serious crime that happens too often. The legal experts at KBA Attorneys can answer any questions you have about nursing home abuse lawsuits. Protect your loved ones. They deserve the best you can provide for them.
Contact KBA Attorneys today at (855) 522-5297 or fill out a quick online form to speak with our legal team.
- David Lander. “Common Kinds of Nursing Home Abuse”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/common-kinds-nursing-home-abuse.html. Accessed June 13, 2019.
- National Institute on Aging. “Elder Abuse”, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/elder-abuse. Accessed June 13, 2019.
- National Center on Elder Abuse. “Types of Abuse”, Administration for Community Living, https://ncea.acl.gov/Suspect-Abuse/Abuse-Types.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2019.