Scales of Justice

Nursing Home Negligence: Types of Elder Abuse and What To Do About It

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Moving your parent or other elderly relative to a nursing home is a big decision in your life, and in theirs.  After you research different facilities in your area, you find one which seems to be a good fit for your family.  But your job is not finished yet – you know how important it is to keep a constant watch over the living conditions where your family member now resides.

Oklahoma has approximately 300 state-licensed facilities and nearly 27,000 beds dedicated to caring for patients in nursing homes; specialized facilities for those with mental retardation or Alzheimer’s or dementia; hospital-based skilled nursing units; residential care homes; adult day care centers; assisted living centers and continuum of care facilities.  As the U.S. population ages, adult children and other family members must adjust to provide the best care for their elderly family members.

Sometimes, unfortunately, there can be major problems in nursing homes and other care facilities.  Sadly, many types of abuse can and do occur.  As someone who cares for a nursing home relative, you need to be aware of different types of abuse that can happen in a nursing home, and learn what you can do to help your family member.

Types of Elder Abuse

  • Physical abuse occurs when a staff member uses restraints (such as tying a patient’s hands or feet to a bed rail) or physical force to make sure a patient complies with a command.  Restraint can also mean over-sedating a person so they are abnormally lethargic, which is known as chemical restraint.  Your parent or elder relative has a right to remain free from physical abuse while in a living facility.
  • Sexual abuse occurs when a staff member engages in a sexual act with a non-consenting patient.  The patient might not be able to resist or respond due to mental or physical limitations.  Sexual activity between a caregiver at a nursing home and an elderly resident are not appropriate and should be investigated.
  • Financial abuse happens when money is not used as agreed upon to take care of the elderly person.  For example, if your family pays for specific nursing services and they are not provided as agreed upon, then financial abuse may be occurring.  Your family has contracted with the facility to provide services and by not performing those services, the nursing home is in breach of contract.
  • Emotional abuse takes place when a staff member uses non-verbal signals or verbal communication to torment a patient, causing emotional anguish.  Emotional abuse might also include promises to change dirty bed linens or help the resident use the bathroom and then not fulfilling those promises.  Your elderly family member is entitled to be treated respectfully by staff members at the nursing home.  Intentionally causing emotional distress should not be tolerated.
  • Abandonment goes against the very reason your elderly parent resides in a nursing home:  so they can be properly cared for by professionals, 24 hours a day.  Leaving a patient to take care of themselves is abandonment.  Residents deserve to be looked after and assisted to ensure they are safe and as healthy as possible.
  • Neglect in nursing homes is a type of abuse by omission.  This means that no abusive act has occurred; that’s part of the problem – nothing has occurred.  When the staff of a resident care home has ignored your relative’s needs, that can be abuse.  Neglect could be failure to provide adequate meals or failure to provide proper hygiene.  Because you or your elderly relative pay for care and services, the failure to provide those services is punishable by elder abuse laws.
  • Abuse by another resident can also occur.  Not only have staff members been proven to be responsible for hurting residents, but also roommates and other elderly people living at the home could harm your relative.  The facility may also have responsibility for ensuring that residents to not harm each other.

If you suspect any type of abuse has been inflicted on your family member who lives in a nursing home, immediately contact an Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorney at Carr & Carr.  The best was to stop this horrible abuse from happening again is to take legal action against the facility and/or abusers so that they can not harm other elderly residents.  Taking action against the person or people who inflict this pain can help put a stop to it.  The lawyers at Carr & Carr can help you determine what your next step needs to be, and there is no cost for us to review your possible case.

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