Top Five Kinds of Nursing Home Abuse

by | May 25, 2022 | Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

According to one advocacy group, about one in ten elders are abused every year. However, this figure is most likely underreported. Many older adults, especially some nursing home residents, are unaware they’ve been victimized. Additionally, many residents don’t report abuse. Usually, they either fear retaliation or they don’t want to cause trouble.

The forms of abuse outlined below usually cause physical and/or emotional injuries. Older adults have a very hard time recovering from either kind of injury. Many nursing home residents are very frail. As a result, a tiny bit of physical force could cause a serious injury. Additionally, the symptoms of emotional injuries, like PTSD, often mimic the symptoms of other age-related conditions, like dementia.

These injury claims are complex, so only an experienced Lexington personal injury attorney should handle them. As mentioned, abuse-related injuries are often difficult to diagnose and treat. So, proper medical treatment is challenging, especially since many nursing home residents have pre-existing conditions. Additionally, once these cases go to court, the defendant is usually an out-of-state holding company that has the resources to fight the claim tooth and nail.

Medical

Typically, these injuries are negligence as opposed to abuse. Nursing home staffers rarely intend to hurt someone in this area.

However, sooner or later, a line is crossed. Bedsores are a good example. Pressure ulcers usually develop if the person doesn’t turn over in bed at least once every two hours. If an early stage bedsore develops, the issue is probably negligence. But if nursing home staffers ignore bedsores and allow them to get worse, the resulting serious injury is arguably abusive.

Compensation is usually higher in abuse cases than in negligence cases. Jurors are often anxious to punish abusers and protect abuse victims.

Emotional

Stressed-out employees at understaffed nursing homes are especially likely to abuse residents emotionally. They often use extremely hurtful words that wouldn’t adversely affect younger people. But they often deeply affect older people.

These consequences include C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a specific kind of PTSD. C-PTSD usually affects people who repeatedly suffer from relatively low-grade trauma, like verbal abuse, and cannot leave the situation. The cause and symptoms are basically the same. A chemical imbalance in the brain causes both C-PTSD and PTSD. The symptoms of both maladies include depression, anger, hypervigilance, flashbacks, and depression.

Individuals are morally responsible for emotional abuse. The nursing home that employed the abuser could be legally responsible, under a theory like negligent hiring or negligent supervision.

Sexual

It’s very disturbing to think that sexual abuse could be happening at local nursing homes. But it happens. Sexual battery is just one example. Other examples include forcing a resident to witness sex acts or watch pornography. 

Signs of sexual abuse include behavioral changes, unusual physical injuries, and torn clothing. If you see these signs when you visit a loved one, express your concerns to the nursing home administrator. If that administrator doesn’t immediately do the right thing, contact a Lexington personal injury lawyer.

The negligent hiring rule could apply in these cases. Basically, negligent hiring is hiring an incompetent person to do a job. If that incompetency is a criminal record, the record must normally directly relate to the abuse. So, liability could attach if the nursing home employee had a sex crime record. Another kind of criminal record, like forgery, may not count.

Physical

We touched on physical abuse above. Acts like blocking a person’s path or holding a person in a chair might not seriously injure most people. But to a frail nursing home resident, the resulting injury could be serious or life-threatening.

Frequently, negligent supervision is the issue in these cases. If people think they can get away with physical abuse, they’re usually willing to test the limits. That’s especially true if, as is often the case, nursing home administrators don’t thoroughly investigate physical abuse allegations.

Financial

This final form of abuse could be individual or institutional. Individual financial abuse claims, like tricking a resident into signing a legal document, aren’t very common in nursing homes. Only long-term staff members have that level of trust with nursing home residents. Because of the aforementioned understaffing issue, turnover at most nursing homes is pretty high.

Institutional financial abuse is a different matter. Frequently, nursing homes launch guardianship proceedings to try and gain complete control of a resident’s finances. These moves are especially common if the resident doesn’t get many visitors.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.