If you have a parent who is in a nursing home, you undoubtedly worry about the quality of the care he or she is receiving given the seemingly endless news reports involving nursing home abuse across the country. What should you do though, if your worries appear to be well-founded? The Grand Forks nursing home attorneys at German Law explain your options if you suspect that a parent is the victim of nursing home abuse.
How Bad Is the Nursing Home Abuse Problem?
If you pay attention to the news, it may seem as though every nursing home in the country is abusing or neglecting patients. The truth is that while there are many nursing homes that provide compassionate and competent care to the patients living at the facility, the threat of nursing home abuse and neglect is very real in the United States. Consider the following facts and figures relating to nursing home abuse:
- Experts believe more than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reports, as many as 14 go unreported.
- Between 1999 and 2001, almost one-third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could cause harm, or that did harm elderly residents of those facilities;
- Nearly 10% of those homes had violations that posed a risk of serious injury or death, or that did cause deaths of elderly residents;
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients;
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
How Do I Know If My Parent Is the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse?
One of the biggest problems with identifying nursing home abuse is that the victims rarely speak up. Sometimes victims remain silent because they cannot speak out as a result of physical and/or mental disabilities. Often though, victims of elder abuse of all types are ashamed or embarrassed to be a victim, causing them to remain silent. Consequently, if you have a loved one in a nursing home, it may be up to you to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse which may include:
- Bruising on wrists and/or ankles from restraints
- Excessive and/or unexplained injuries
- Loss of appetite
- Personal items missing
- Medication missing or not taken as prescribed
- Deteriorating hygiene habits
What Can I Do If I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
If you are convinced that something isn’t right with your parent, it probably isn’t. The first thing you should try to do is to talk to your parent about your suspicions. Encourage him/her to confide in you and explain that being a victim is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. Most importantly, assure your parent that you will do something about the abuse and that by speaking up your parent can possibly prevent others from being victimized.
Confronting the administration and filing a report with the local police department are also options. While it is important to at least try to discuss your suspicions with the facility’s administrative staff, they may fall short of resolving the problem, as will contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency. One of the most important steps you can take to protect your parent is to consult with a Grand Forks nursing home lawyer. Abuse is a criminal offense. Most states also now have laws that specifically make abuse of an elder a separate, and usually more serious criminal offense. Nursing home abuse, however, may also serve as the basis for a civil lawsuit against the abuser and/or facility. Finally, if you have not already done so, you may need to consider petitioning for guardianship over your parent so that you can rapidly remove your parent from a dangerous situation now and in the future.
Contact Grand Forks Nursing Home Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns about nursing home abuse, contact an experienced Grand Forks nursing home lawyer at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.