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Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Loved Ones

March 9, 2016 Nursing Home Abuse

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused and neglected each year. Elder abuse is the knowing, intentional, or negligent action by a caregiver or any other person in a trust relationship with the elder that causes harm or creates a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.

Research indicates that 40% of people will live in a nursing home before they pass away. A study conducted during 1999-2001 found that one in three U.S. nursing homes were cited for violating federal standards. In a study from 2000 interviews with nursing home residents revealed that 44% had been abused and 95% reported they they had been neglected or had seen another resident neglected. The most common risk factors for nursing home abuse are understaffing, inadequate training, institutional indifference, and failure to have an abuse prevention policy. Research has also shown that a nursing home with a high percentage of residents with dementia and understaffing puts its residents at a high risk for abuse or neglect.

Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

  • Physical abuse: Inflicting physical pain or injury through hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, or improper restraint
  • Neglect: Failing to meet an elder person’s basic needs or protection
  • Financial exploitation: The illegal misuse or concealment of an elder person’s assets or funds for someone else’s benefit
  • Emotional abuse: Harming an elder person’s self-worth or emotional well-being by way of name calling, humiliating, intimidating, or threatening

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

While emotional abuse may be more difficult to detect, the following are some of the most common signs of abuse:

  • Bruises, broken bones, abrasions, or burns could be an indication of physical abuse.
  • Bedsores, poor hygiene, and weight loss could be signs of neglect.
  • Reluctance to speak or interact with certain staff members
  • Unusual or sudden changes in personality or behavior such as withdrawal from normal activities or irritability
  • Reluctance or fear toward physical contact
  • Over medication or sedation
  • Dehydration

North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Law

North Carolina has over 400 nursing homes with over 30,000 elderly residents. Of those, nearly one-third have received more than 3 complaints each year. North Carolina law protects disabled adults of any age from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Long-term care facilities must be licensed through the North Carolina Division of Health Service regulation and training is required for all staff working in a nursing home. North Carolina must also comply with federal laws regarding elderly care, which includes the Elder Justice Act.

Consult with an Experienced Attorney

If you have witnessed warning signs and suspect your loved one has been a victim, you should report your concerns. If you do not receive a satisfactory explanation for the warning signs you observed, you should report the matter to the proper authorities. Contact Wallace Childers PLLC for a free consultation and help evaluating your case. We will work to help you hold nursing home abusers accountable for their actions.