Putting an elderly parent in a nursing home is one of the hardest decisions a person can make. There’s a feeling of helplessness that goes along with the decision, because you are asking someone else to protect and care for a person who protected and cared for you all your life. Choosing the right nursing home can be very difficult, as well, because there are a lot of factors that must be considered.
Perhaps this is why it can be so devastating when the nursing home abuses or neglects an elderly loved one. This is why it’s so important to know the signs of nursing home abuse.
How Bad is the Problem?
Research from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) suggests that 1 in 10 nursing home residents will be a victim of abuse or neglect. At first blush, this may not seem significant to some, but also consider that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released data in 2016, suggesting that although there were about 33 million people over the age of 60 living in 1994, by the year 2030, that number will soar to 71 million. So, given the statistics, that means a lot of abuse and neglect over the next few decades.
Types of Injuries
There are many different types of elder abuse. These are just a few examples:
- Bedsores (carefully ask your loved one if you can check their skin. You usually find these painful wounds near the tailbone, hips, elbows, and around other bony areas)
- Dehydration and malnutrition (is your loved one eating enough? Is water nearby?)
- Falls (can your loved one get to the bathroom? What about gripper socks? Is someone responsive when your loved one uses a call light?)
- Sexual Abuse (Does your loved one react in a strange way when certain staff members come to the room? Unexpected infections, STD’s, or other signs of sexual activities?)
Do You Know the Signs of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes?
Remember to trust your own senses when you are visiting a loved one in a nursing home. Here are some things to think about, and some of the signs to look for.
- What do you smell?
Is there a strong odor of urine or feces? These can be signs that staff are not able to keep up. When a facility is understaffed, negligence is more likely.
- What do you see?
Look down hallways and in rooms as you walk around. Do you see “wheelchair graveyards?” This is when staff ‘park’ residents in their wheelchairs in hallways to keep an eye on more than one person at a time. This can be a sign of poor staffing.
- What do you hear?
Do you hear residents crying out for more than 2-3 minutes, without anyone going to check on them? Again, this can mean understaffing.
- What about employees?
How many different workers are there? Do they seem rushed?
How to Report Elderly Abuse
Many residents are so afraid of their abusers that they are not willing to come forward and tell people, especially their loved ones. So, it’s up to you to know the signs and know what to do if you suspect abuse. If you witness an emergency or life threatening abuse taking place in a nursing home, you should call 911 immediately. Even if you just suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect, you should report it to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Why You Should Contact Cain Law
Once the victim is safe, call an experienced Oklahoma City nursing home abuse lawyer to help you and your family fight for the respect and dignity that your elderly loved one deserves. If your loved one has been abused or neglected, he or she may be entitled to compensation for the injuries. If the abuse leads to death, loved ones may have a right to be compensated as well. Find out more, and learn your rights. Contact the Cain Law Office to schedule a risk-free, confidential consultation.