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Nursing Home Law: Abuse of the Elderly

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2014 | Articles

When an individual places their loved one within the care of a nursing home, they do so expecting a certain quality of effort from the staff that are employed there. When putting a family member into a nursing home, individuals expect that their needs will be met, and that they will receive the appropriate attention to keep them safe and supported throughout their daily lives.

Unfortunately, abuse and negligence within nursing homes throughout the country remain a common problem. Although many federal and state regulations have been established in an attempt to protect the vulnerable elderly who reside within these settings, violations can still occur on a daily basis which compromise the well-being, dignity and health of our elderly loved ones.

An Unforgiveable Act

As the elderly population becomes frail physically, and mentally, they often find that they are less capable of standing up for themselves and fighting back against attacks. Sometimes, they cannot hear or see as well as they used to, and their lack of strength provides an opportunity for nursing care staff to be negligent without any foreseeable repercussions. Unfortunately, many seniors throughout the world are victims of abuse that is administered by the people who are directly responsible for their care, and in the United States alone, over half a million reports of abuse against the elderly are dealt with by the authorities.

Elder Abuse: The Different Types and Forms

Abuse of the elderly by people who are intended to care for them can take place in many different ways. Sometimes, abuse can involve threats and intimidation against the elderly residents, whereas other times, abuse can involve financial deceit.

Physical elder abuse is recognized as the purposeful use of force against an elderly person that either results in injury, impairment or pain for the victim. Such abuse can include more than simply direct physical assaults in the form of shoving or hitting, it can also refer to the inappropriate use of restraints, confinement, and even drugs or medication.

Emotional or psychological abuse can be identified when individuals treat or speak to elderly people in a way that causes them some form of emotional distress or pain. For example, verbal types of emotional abuse can include humiliation and ridicule, intimidation through threats or shouting, and habitual scapegoating or blaming of the elderly individual in question. Forms of nonverbal emotional abuse can be recognized as ignoring the elderly person, isolating them from activities or friends, or purposefully terrorizing them in some way.

Another way in which professional individuals responsible for the care of an elderly individual may be guilty of abusing them, is through financial exploitation. This means that the caregiver uses the elderly person’s property or funds in an unauthorized manner, by:

  • Forging the elderly individual’s signature or engaging in some form of identity theft
  • Stealing income checks, household goods or cash
  • Misusing personal checks, accounts or credit cards

Recognizing Elder Abuse

At first, it can be difficult for some people to recognize the evidence of elder abuse, particularly when the victim in question does not speak up about what is happening to them. In some cases, the evidence of elder abuse can seem very similar to signs of dementia or evidence of frailty within the elderly individual, and caregivers may even attempt to explain issues to you with these reasons.

Often, the symptoms of elder abuse can overlap with symptoms of mental deterioration and problems, but this does not mean that they should be dismissed. If you are concerned that your loved one may be suffering from elder abuse and would like to engage in nursing home litigation, call Makarem & Associates at 310.312.0299, or email us at any time at [email protected].