Types of Nursing Home Abuse
What Are Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
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.
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 When a nursing home resident experiences emotional abuse they may become depressed, withdrawn, or show signs of increasing agitation.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.
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. 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.
Financial Abuse and Fraud
When a caregiver or someone else improperly or illegally uses an elderly person’s funds, property, or assets, this is called financial abuse or exploitation. 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.
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