Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Sadly, nursing home abuse is a serious problem in the United States. It is also a complex problem with many different types of abuse occurring in Georgia nursing homes.
While it is somewhat difficult to get precise numbers, the scope of the problem is truly enormous.
According to data from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), more than 10% of nursing home residents report they have been the victim of some form of abuse or neglect. The proper figure is undoubtedly much higher: The National Center of Elder Abuse (NCEA) found that only 7% of nursing home abuse cases are ever reported to the authorities.
At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., our Athens, GA nursing home abuse lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights and interests of injured victims.
If a vulnerable loved one was subject to any type of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in an assisted living facility, our law firm is here to help you and your family.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential case evaluation.
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An Overview of the Types of Nursing Home Abuse
One of the most common — and frightening — types of abuse in nursing homes is physical abuse. Sadly, physical abuse may come at the hands at either a staff member or another resident.
There are various forms of physical abuse that may occur in nursing homes, including hitting, shoving, burning, pinching, and unnecessary restraint, to name a few.
Anytime a nursing home resident suffers intentional physical pain or injuries by a caregiver, it’s considered physical abuse.
The effects of physical abuse on an elderly nursing home resident can include bruises, cuts, fractures, internal injuries, head, neck or back injuries; and chronic pain or soreness.
As physical abuse tends to leave visible injuries, you may think it would be easy to spot.
However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, physical abuse in nursing homes goes unreported.
A frightened or cognitively impaired nursing home resident may not be able to report the abuse. If you ever see any signs of physical abuse on your loved one — including unexplained bruising or unexplained injuries — it is imperative you follow up on the issue.
You deserve answers. Your family member deserves justice and safety.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Physical abuse is hard enough to detect. Emotional and psychological abuse can be hard to identify.
Nursing home residents who are physically abused show physical symptoms, but emotional and psychological abuse is invisible, making it harder to track.
When a physician or caregiver acts in a way that causes emotional pain or suffering, it’s considered emotional abuse.
Types of emotional abuse include yelling or screaming, intimidation, name-calling, threatening, speaking to a resident in a demeaning way, causing a resident to feel guilty, ignoring them, restricting access to necessities, scapegoating, and withdrawing affection.
When a nursing home resident experiences emotional abuse they may become depressed, withdrawn, or show signs of increasing agitation.
A change in personalities such as chronic fear, low self-esteem, or loss of interest can also be a sign of emotional abuse.
Obviously, emotional and psychological abuse cases are especially complicated.
The best thing you can do to ensure your loved one is fully protected is to make sure you listen to their concerns and follow up on any suspicions you might have that there is something wrong.
As any experienced Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer would tell you, many instances of nursing home abuse are finally put to a stop and reported to the authorities when a caring, attentive family member suspects something is wrong and then steps in to take action to investigate the situation.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation
Unfortunately, because elderly people are often isolated from family and friends, they can become targets for sexual predators.
Any type of initiated or physical touch by a caregiver or others that is sexual in nature, and is non-consensual or unwanted, is considered sexual abuse.
Sadly, this type of shocking and disturbing abuse remains a major problem.
In January 2019, a terrible sexual abuse case arising out of an assisted living center in Arizona made national headlines after a woman who was in a vegetative state for 10 years unexpectedly gave birth. The implications are clear: She was raped in the facility.
Nursing homes have a duty to protect their residents from sexual abuse. Sometimes an elderly person may be confused or unable to give consent, but whether the contact is minor or significant, if it’s sexual in nature and unwanted, it’s sexual abuse.
Some types of sexual abuse include sexual assault and battery, unwanted touching, forced nudity, and rape.
If a nursing home resident is being sexually abused they may show signs of depression or withdraw, excessive fear around specific caregivers, unexplained vaginal bleeding, STDs and infections, bruising in the genital region or breasts, and it may become difficult for them to walk or sit.
Non-verbal Psychological Abuse
Not all emotional and psychological abuse is verbal. When a caregiver or physician intentionally ignores or fails to acknowledge a nursing home resident’s needs, this is considered psychological abuse.
Other types of non-verbal psychological abuse include intimidating, terrorizing, and isolating an elderly person for the sake of instilling fear.
Signs that your loved one has been psychologically abused include depression, unexplained fear of caregivers, agitation, and they may become withdrawn or scared to speak up.
With non-verbal emotional or psychological abuse, the lesson is the same: It is hard for family members to know when abuse is occurring.
Any sign that your loved one has been mistreated merits a comprehensive investigation.
Your questions need answers.
Financial Abuse and Fraud
Finally, in some cases, vulnerable elderly people are targeted by fraudsters and other financial predators.
When a caregiver or someone else improperly or illegally use an elderly person’s funds, property, or assets, this is called financial abuse or exploitation.
Financial abuse puts a vulnerable person at serious risk. It could even make it difficult, or impossible, for them to pay off the healthcare services they so desperately need.
Some examples of financial abuse include forgery, stealing or misusing a nursing home resident’s money or possessions, deceiving or coercing an elderly resident to sign documents that relinquish their rights, or cashing a nursing home resident’s checks without permission.
Medicare and Medicaid fraud in nursing homes are also a form of financial abuse.
Healthcare fraud such as phantom billing, which is when healthcare providers bill Medicare unnecessarily, or kick-back fraud, which is when a healthcare facility receives some type of financial kick-back due to fraud, is rampant in nursing homes.
Many times, nursing home residents are unaware when financial abuse is taking place. Family members should always keep a close eye on any financial accounts to ensure that nothing out of the ordinary is occurring.
Some warning signs of financial abuse include abrupt changes in an elderly person’s will or other financial documents, personal belongings go missing, sudden changes in the resident’s checking or savings accounts, frequent checks being written, unexplained bounced checks, additional names being added to financial accounts, and the resident’s living conditions are suddenly below his or her resources.
If your loved one was the victim of financial abuse, you need to take immediate action. The perpetrator must be held accountable —through criminal action, civil action, or both.
Our law firm is prepared to review your case and explain your rights and options to you.
Get Help from an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Georgia
If your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, you need to protect their physical health, psychological well-being, and legal rights.
You do not have to go through this alone. Our attorneys are experienced, compassionate, and skilled and will work with you if you or a loved one has suffered abuse at a nursing home in Georgia. Contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation.
Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. our nursing home abuse lawyers know how to hold negligent nursing homes responsible for their misconduct.
We will fight for justice for you and your family. We have been assisting clients nationwide for more than 30 years with a wide range of complex legal matters.