One of the reasons the nursing home abuse numbers are so high is because so few cases are reported.
Many nursing home residents have memory problems, so they may not remember any details about the incident.
The fact that approximately 10 percent of elderly persons (defined as those who are 65 years of age or above) are victims of abuse, according to data presented by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), may seem shocking and unbelievable – who would intentionally cause harm to an elderly person who requires care from another?
Unfortunately, elder abuse takes place at an alarming rate in Georgia and throughout the country, with both at-home caregivers and nursing home professionals being guilty of abuse and neglect.
If you suspect elder abuse, it is critical that you report it immediately; failure to do so could have a negative effect on the affected elderly person.
At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., our experienced elder and nursing home abuse lawyers can help you to recognize the signs of elder abuse, report elder abuse to Adult Protective Services, and pursue damages for harm.
Call us today to learn how we can help.
Furthermore, many victims do not report these incidents because they fear retaliation.
If you do not like what you see, even if it’s no more than an uneasy feeling, contact an attorney straight away.
The situation could get a lot worse.
Abuse and Neglect in Georgia Nursing Homes
The elderly population has expanded significantly since 2010.
That expansion will escalate at least until at least 2060. At that time, America’s over-65 population may be close to 100 million people.
The over-85 population may be almost 20 million.
At the same time, Medicaid reimbursements have dropped rather significantly since about 2000. So, nursing home administrators often use patient volume to make up the difference.
Abuse is almost always intentional conduct. It can take many forms, and pretty much all of them are equally harmful.
Some examples include:
- Physical: Many older residents are physically frail. So, a little bit of force can cause a serious injury. Moreover, many residents have pre-existing conditions, so their health deteriorates rapidly after a sudden trauma injury. This includes hitting, biting, kicking, improperly restraining, over- or under-medicating, or otherwise using physical force in an inappropriate way against an elderly person.
- Emotional: Isolation in one’s room is a common kind of punishment. Sometimes, staff members leave residents unattended in their rooms because there is no one to watch them. Staff outbursts are also common, like “No one wants you” and “Everyone’s forgotten about you.”
- Financial: Simple theft is quite common in nursing homes. More elaborate schemes are common as well. For example, an unscrupulous staff member might tell a resident that her niece is in jail and needs cash to get out.
- Psychological or verbal abuse: Involves tormenting, teasing, humiliating, threatening, or harassing an elderly person, as well as preventing the elderly person from engaging in social activities or intentionally ignoring the elderly person.
- Neglect: which refers to the failure to provide the elderly person with the level of care they need and are entitled to, even if this is not intentional. For example, if a nursing home is understaffed, an elderly person may not receive proper health care, nutrition or hydration, bathing and grooming services, social interaction, and other critical facets of care and wellbeing.
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse Is Occurring
If you suspect that abuse is occurring, it is important that you act quickly, and our lawyers can help. Steps to take if you suspect abuse include:
- Call 911 If you believe that abuse is occurring and you believe that your loved one is at imminent risk of injury or death, do not hesitate to report the matter to the police immediately.
- Document abuse One thing that can help Adult Protective Services, and assist in your claim for damages, is documenting abuse early on. Write down everything you see and any potential abuse-related incidents (such as a slip and fall or unexplained injury).
- Talk to the nursing home manager We recommend bringing your concerns to a nursing home manager or supervisor and seeing what remedies are offered. If nothing changes and your worries about abuse are not alleviated, take further action.
- Report the abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS) APS is responsible for investigating all alleged cases of abuse against adult persons. You can report the abuse online or by phone.
- Call our law firm When you call an experienced Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer, our lawyers can guide you through your rights and the rights of your elderly loved one, assist you in reporting abuse to APS, and represent you in building a claim against the nursing home to recoup damages for harm suffered.
Neglect is usually unintentional. However, the injuries are no less severe. As mentioned, many Georgia nursing homes are dangerously understaffed. So, according to the statistics, neglect is quite common. Some instances include:
- Bedsores: As long as residents turn in bed every few hours, bedsores are not a problem. Furthermore, if they are caught early enough, they can be dealt with. However, if bedsores are neglected, they quickly become life-threatening.
- Malnutrition: Many times, senses dull with age. Food no longer tastes good. So, many older residents do not eat or drink. If there is no one at the table during mealtime to ensure that residents eat and drink, they quickly become malnourished.
- Resident on Resident Abuse: Nursing home neglect usually causes resident on resident abuse, which is one of the fastest-growing causes of nursing home injuries. Older adults can be rather childlike. If there is no staff to break up petty arguments, these disputes sometimes turn violent.
Nursing home neglect is especially a problem during low census periods, like holidays, nights, and weekends.
According to the nursing home is legally responsible for neglect injuries. To report a nursing home, many people work with the Georgia nursing home ombudsman. This person is basically a non-attorney advocate. Visit their website or call 866-55-AGING and select option 5.
Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse
As a loved one of an elderly person, it is important to know the warning signs of elder abuse and to continually talk to your loved one about how they are faring. Some of the signs and symptoms of elder abuse include:
- Bite marks, slap marks, bruises, lacerations, unexplained injuries (like a bone fracture), and abrasions;
- Torn or bloodied undergarments or clothing, genital infections, and signs of physical abuse, such as bruises;
- Poor hygiene, weight loss, deterioration in condition, lack of basic medical aids (like glasses);
- Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities, depression, anxiety, anger or/and angry outbursts, deterioration in physical condition, and fear about being in a nursing home or left alone with a particular caregiver; and
- Include changes to an elderly person’s finances, such as the opening of a new credit card or bank account, and missing cash or valuable items.
If you see evidence like this, report the possible abuse or neglect of the nursing home manager or administrator. If you do not like the answers you get, report the nursing home to the appropriate authorities.
It’s better to err on the side of caution when your loved one’s well-being may be at stake. If possible retaliation is a worry, and it usually is, it may also be a good idea to find another nursing home.
Get Your Free Consultation Today
If your loved one is in a nursing home and has experienced some form of abuse or neglect, contact us for a free consultation with an experienced Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Laywer At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., we routinely handle nursing home abuse cases in Georgia.