The over-65 population is expanding rapidly in Kentucky. The nursing home population is expanding as well. Unfortunately, for malefactors who abuse older adults, that means more potential targets. And, mostly due to chronic understaffing, many facilities do not ask too many questions of their applicants.
Nursing home abuse is not the same thing as nursing home neglect. Neglect is an unintentional injury, like not taking care of a fall hazard. Abuse is an intentional injury, like pushing someone down the stairs. Nursing home abuse is not always that extreme, but sometimes it is.
Because abuse injuries are intentional and maybe even malicious, a Lexington personal injury attorney can often obtain substantial compensatory damages in these situations. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in extreme situations. Generally, the nursing home owner is financially responsible for these damages.
This form of abuse could be individual or institutional. Both these kinds of abuse have long-lasting emotional effects on their victims.
Many nursing home residents feel particularly close to a certain caregiver. Some caregivers take advantage of that trust. Other people rely on tricks. They force residents to sign legal documents they do not understand or invent a scam like “your grandson is in jail and needs $5,000 cash for bail money.”
As for institutional financial abuse, guardianship proceedings are a disturbing trend. Many long-term care facilities initiate legal guardianship proceedings over residents in order to gain control of their financial affairs.
Unexplained withdrawals often indicate financial abuse. Frequently, scammers drain a few dollars from an account to see if anyone notices, then they unlawfully withdraw larger sums. Furthermore, assume that any changes to legal documents made without your knowledge probably involved fraud. Finally, as in all these areas of abuse, if an elder reports financial abuse, assume the report is at least partially true.
Frequently, emotional abuse involves enforced isolation. Typically because staffing levels are low, many residents must spend hours by themselves, usually in their rooms. Other times, staffers use isolation as punishment. Other common forms of emotional abuse include treating residents like children or saying things like “No one is coming to visit you.”
Signs of emotional abuse include extreme agitation, extreme withdrawal, or unusual behavior, such as thumb-sucking or biting, which is often a dementia symptom.
It is difficult to believe that sexual abuse is a problem in Kentucky nursing homes. But it exists in several different forms.
Some evildoers force residents to commit sex acts, generally with another resident. Many residents develop fondness for other residents, and that fondness is easily manipulated. Staff-on-resident sexual abuse is certainly not unheard of either. Other evildoers force residents to witness sex acts, either live or on video.
Indications of sexual abuse include bruising near the genitals, torn clothing, especially torn undergarments, and unusual outcries about sexual matters.
This form of abuse also comes in different forms, and the legal implications of each one are different. The bottom line is that compensation, and more importantly justice, are usually available.
As a preliminary note, many nursing home residents are physically frail. So, a little bit of physical force could cause a significant injury. Full compensation is available in these situations, thanks to the eggshell skull rule.
Common staff-on-resident violence includes blocking a walking path, pushing a resident onto a bed, and misusing bed restraints. In terms of liability, either negligent hiring or negligent supervision often apply to these injuries. Negligent hiring is hiring an incompetent person to do a certain job. Negligent supervision is failing to watch the employee and act appropriately if misconduct occurs.
Resident-on-resident violence is also common at crowded nursing homes. Many residents unintentionally wander into someone else’s room, and the person reacts angrily. If the nursing home was negligent in some way, usually by not assigning people to closely watch residents, the nursing home could be liable for damages.
In addition to cuts and bruises, watch for decreased mobility and fearfulness or anger directed at another individual in the nursing home.
Nursing home abuse often causes serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Home, virtual, and hospital visits are available.