Demographically, the next decade may be a sea change for America. For the first time in history, by 2034, there will be more people over 65 than under 18. This one statistic might be the most telling indicator of the elderly population explosion, an event that has affected thousands of Kentucky families.
More people are living longer, but they are not always able to live independently. As a result, the nursing home population has increased greatly as well. The burgeoning population, alongside understaffing and other persistent problems, sets the stage for various kinds of nursing home abuse, as outlined below.
All forms of nursing home abuse cause serious injuries. As a result, a Lexington personal injury attorney can often obtain compensation for victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
What’s the Difference Between Neglect and Abuse?
Many people think these terms are synonymous. But they are not. Neglect is unintentional injury. Bedsores on nursing home patients is a good example. Staff members do not intentionally give nursing home residents pressure ulcers. Instead, these injuries usually develop because of a lack of supervision. That’s the essence of a negligence claim.
Abuse, on the other hand, is an intentional injury. People do not “accidentally” hit other people or attack them with abusive language. They do so intentionally. Note that maliciousness is not a factor. The intentional conduct alone is sufficient.
Applicable legal theories in nursing home abuse claims include negligent hiring and negligent supervision. Negligent hiring is retaining people who are not qualified for the job. Negligent supervision is a failure to watch employees or a failure to discipline them appropriately.
Types of Abuse
Negligent hiring and negligent supervision are common in Fayette County long-term care facilities. To keep up with the expanding patient population, many owners do not conduct thorough background checks on new employees. In fact, they do not ask many questions at all. These same dynamics apply in the supervision portion of the employer-employee relationship.
Many older residents are physically frail, and others have pre-existing medical conditions. As a result, a tiny amount of physical force can cause a serious injury. Examples include blocking a resident’s path, pulling a resident out of bed, or shoving the resident into bed.
Frequently, residents do not report such incidents. They fear retaliation or they do not realize the extent of their injuries. So, if you see any evidence of physical violence, like a red mark, err on the side of caution and report it.
At the end of a long day, our nerves are often frayed. But that’s no excuse to use abusive language, especially if the targeted person is a vulnerable adult. And, that old “sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me” thing is patently untrue. Words hurt just as much as blows.
Personality changes often indicate emotional abuse. Normally talkative people become withdrawn. Also look for a fear of a certain staff member.
It’s hard to believe that sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes. But it does. Some unscrupulous staffers physically assault older adults. Others force residents to witness sex acts or view pornography.
Physical assaults usually leave physical evidence, such as torn undergarments. Inappropriate sexual remarks or behavioral outbursts could also indicate prior sexual abuse.
Low-level financial abuse includes tricking residents into signing legal documents and stealing valuables from rooms. At the upper level, some nursing home administrators initiate legal guardianship proceedings to gain control of the resident’s financial resources.
If a resident accuses a staffer of theft, take the allegation seriously. And, keep an eye on the resident’s legal affairs, looking for anything out of place.
As a final note, “granny cams” are typically legal in Kentucky. These tiny hidden surveillance cameras can conclusively prove or disprove nursing home abuse. Either way, they often give families additional peace of mind. However, these devices have some risks as well. So, talk to a lawyer before you install one.
Nursing home abuse has serious consequences for victims and families. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We routinely handle matters in Fayette County and nearby jurisdictions.