Nursing home abuse refers to a fairly wide range of physical, emotional, and/or financial harms done to an elder person by someone who is supposed to be caring for that elder. These acts of abuse and neglect by nursing home or assisted living facility caregivers are all too frequent, and those responsible must be held accountable.
Elder Abuse and Elder Neglect Statistics
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there was a 21% increase in the number of Americans aged 62 and over from 2000 to 2010, totaling nearly 50,000,000. By 2020, there will be nearly 60,000,000 Americans aged 65 years and older. Of those, nearly 7,000,000 will be aged 85 or older.
According to recent studies, nearly 10% of elders reported experiencing some form abuse in the preceding year. And experts report that nearly 50% of elders with some form of dementia experience some kind of abuse. In one study of a few thousand nursing home residents, 44% reported abuse, and a staggering 95% reported having been neglected or seeing another elder neglected.
So unfortunately, without great diligence and accountability, these incidents of elder abuse and elder neglect are virtually certain to grow in number—a horrible prospect, of course, but also an unfortunate reality.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Physical abuse occurs when someone uses physical force or contact that harms an elder victim, which causes physical pain or injury, and even includes merely threatening to inflict pain or injury. It also encompasses the deprivation of basic needs, like food, water, clean clothes and bedding, and medicine.
Emotional abuse happens when a caregiver (or anyone else, for that matter) causes emotional distress to an elder person. It can be harsh criticism, ridicule, scapegoating, humiliation, hazing, blaming, or otherwise terrorizing the elder, which causes non-physical pain, anguish, heartache, or distress.
Sexual abuse takes place any time there is non-consensual sexual contact to an elder person. All too often, sexual abuse of elder persons accompanies physical abuse and mental abuse. Unfortunately, there are despicable people out there who use coercion, trickery, manipulation, and outright physical force of a sexual nature against utterly powerless seniors.
Financial abuse occurs when a caregiver exploits, misuses, or steals an elder person’s money, jewelry, assets, or other property. It can include theft (or forceful disclosure) of bank account information and credit card numbers. Financial abuse also includes scenarios where elders are manipulated into executing questionable real estate deeds or modifying their wills, estates, and trusts.
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect of elders can be understood generally as a caregiver’s (or similar responsible person’s) failure (or refusal) to provide food, shelter, hygiene, clothing, or health care to an elder person. Everyone becomes more prone to physical ailments and disease with advanced age, so withdrawing the necessities of life can amplify previously existing conditions, or can induce even more serious illnesses and even death.
Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect – What Signs to Look For
Frequently elder abuse spans more than one category at the same time. A classic example is where a caretaker who is supposed to buy medicine for the elder person doesn’t buy the medicine and, instead, uses that money for himself or herself. That would be neglect—by failing to provide necessary medicine—and also would be financial abuse.
Signs of elder abuse and elder neglect to look for include: bruises, broken bones, bed sores, abrasions, withdrawal, depression, anxiety, poor hygiene, dramatic weight loss, sexually transmitted diseases, dehydration, malnourishment, unexplained crying or anger; sudden change in finances, a new “best friend” who is suddenly willing to care for the elder for free; a caregivern’s drug, alcohol, anger, or gambling problems or other emotional instability.
What if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
If you suspect a family member or friend is a victim of elder abuse, contact the nursing facility supervisor immediately. If you are not comfortable doing that, or feel like you need to take more decisive action, then contact the Department of Health & Senior Services’ Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline in Missouri, or the Department for Children and Families’ Adult Protective Services hotline in Kansas.
Then please call The Flynn Law Firm so you can know your rights and your loved one’s rights. A qualified elder abuse lawyer can provide meaningful support and advice to families of the victim, and help to hold those who are responsible fully accountable under the law.