For more information on how to protect loved ones from nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect, click here to download our eBook.
When we trust our loved ones in the hands of caregivers, we never want to think that nursing home abuse or neglect is possible. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse inside our country’s assisted living facilities is shockingly widespread. The National Council on Aging estimates that one in 10 older adults in the U.S. has suffered elder abuse. And as most cases go unreported, this number may be much higher than we know.
If your loved one suffered elder abuse in a care facility, reach out to a Louisville nursing home abuse lawyer right away. At Thomas Law Offices, we understand the challenges presented by Louisville nursing home abuse cases. We’re prepared to stand by your side until your family achieves justice.
What Are Different Types of Abuse in a Nursing Home?
Abusive behavior can take on many forms—physical, emotional, financial, or sexual. There’s also the possibility your loved one was the victim of neglect, medical malpractice, or inadequate staffing in a Louisville nursing home. In the most serious cases, an older adult may suffer wrongful death. The Louisville nursing home abuse lawyers from Thomas Law Offices are prepared to help you take legal action against any type of mistreatment that occurs in an assisted living facility.
Your nursing home abuse attorney will need to determine how your loved one was harmed in order to best provide legal assistance. In some cases, a single perpetrator of violent or manipulative behavior is to blame. In other cases, a facility’s administration may be responsible for failing to protect residents or prevent further abuse from a known abuser.
It’s critical that residents’ loved ones know the warning signs of abuse and neglect. You can learn more on our law firm webpage dedicated to educating family members about the signs of nursing home abuse.
The following are the four main types of nursing home abuse:
Physical abuse is generally the easiest type of abuse to identify and prove. Injury victims often display telltale signs of abuse—bruises, scars, restraint marks, broken bones, or damaged clothing. Physical abuse in nursing homes may involve staff members who hit residents, forcefully mishandle patients, or improperly use restraints.
Emotional, psychological, or verbal abuse is one of the most devastating forms of elder abuse. This type of abuse severely impacts a patient’s overall health. There is a strong link between emotional distress and diminished physical health in nursing home residents. Elderly victims of psychological abuse often lose the desire to maintain their own health or even life.
Psychological or verbal abuse may appear as:
- Ridicule or humiliation
- Intimidation or threats of violence
- Withheld affection
- Social isolation
- Demeaning words and behavior
- Manipulation or gaslighting
Signs of emotional abuse can vary significantly and largely depend on the victim. Sudden changes in mood, signs of fear, emotional outbursts, withdrawal, or noticeable reactions when particular staff members are near may be signs that some form of psychological abuse is occurring.
Financial exploitation occurs when the financial resources of an individual are taken against their will or without their knowledge. In a nursing home, a staff member may pressure a patient to divulge personal information (such as bank account information), or steal money or personal property from a resident. Any time an elderly victim is coerced to make changes to a deed, will, or trust, it is considered financial abuse. Sadly, a financial abuser is usually a family member, caretaker, or another person close to the victim.
Sexual abuse occurs when non-consensual sexual acts take place in nursing homes. Emotional and physical abuse are sometimes linked to sexual assault. If a resident has unexplained injuries, torn or ripped undergarments, bruising in the groin area, or exhibits sudden changes in behavior, these may be signs of sexual abuse.
Any signs of sexual abuse should be reported immediately. Many abusers target multiple victims. When nursing homes engage in negligent hiring practices, there is more opportunity for a person with a history of sex offenses to be employed by the facility.
What Is the Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
While nursing home abuse is deliberate behavior intended to inflict harm, neglect is a failure to prevent a resident from being harmed. Neglect causes a situation in which a preventable event can injure or cause a patient to suffer a wrongful death.
Nursing homes and caregiving facilities are responsible for providing adequate medical care, physical and emotional support, and nutrition to each and every resident. Being overworked or understaffed is never an excuse to deprive patients of proper care.
When residents are neglected, it opens the door for many dangerous problems, including:
Elopement is when a nursing home resident wanders or even leaves the facility altogether. Patients with dementia and other mental deficits are most at risk of elopement, a tendency that can easily lead them into extremely hazardous situations.
Fall injuries and deaths are a serious problem for older adults. Facilities have a duty to identify, monitor, support, and supervise residents at high risk of a fall. This also includes keeping the premises safe by installing bedrails and handrails, keeping walking paths clear, and ensuring adequate lighting.
Malnutrition and Dehydration
Patients who are neglected do not receive the proper medical care and attention they need, even down to basic health necessities like food and water. Residents may not be given their meals or the medications they require on time—or at all. Malnutrition and dehydration are major signs that a nursing home is neglecting residents, especially those who require the most care.
Nursing abuse lawyers often point to bedsores as a clear sign that a patient is being neglected. If an elderly person with limited mobility is ignored and left in the same position in bed for long hours, bed sores (or pressure ulcers) will soon appear on their body. Family members should visit often and remain vigilant in checking their loved ones for bed sores on each visit.
Poor Personal Hygiene
In cases of neglect, nursing home employees may not be present to help residents bathe, brush their teeth, wash their hair, change clothes, or change bedsheets. Signs like soiled linens, unwashed hair, and unseasonal clothing can be an indication of nursing home neglect.
Nursing Home Resident Rights in Kentucky
Nursing home neglect can also mean a resident’s rights are violated. In Kentucky, every resident who stays at a long-term care facility is legally protected under the 1987 Federal Nursing Home Reform Law as well as state laws (KRS 216.520). Under these laws, all Kentucky nursing home residents are entitled to the following rights:
- To be treated with dignity and respect
- To participate in their own care
- To privacy, confidentiality, and personal possessions
- To receive or refuse visitors
- To be fully informed of their rights, as well as the rules and regulations of the facility
- To present grievances and file complaints without fear of reprisal
Fight To Protect a Loved One From Elder Abuse
If your loved one has suffered from any of the above forms of abuse or neglect, or you have reasons to believe they are suffering, take action quickly. Gather as much information and evidence as possible immediately after the incident occurs. Retain any documentation or medical records of reported incidents.
Once your loved one is safe, contact the Adult Protection Branch of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. If your loved one is not in immediate danger, you can call the toll-free hotline at (800) 752-6200. When you report the incident, provide as much information as possible, as this will help expedite the process and get an investigation started. Your action can help stop an incident of Louisville nursing home abuse from continuing.
How Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Fight for Nursing Home Residents
Filing an injury lawsuit against the parties involved is important for many families needing to seek compensation for medical bills and other expenses. But nursing home abuse claims also help improve elder care in our country, making sure no one else falls victim to the same abuse or negligence.
Louisville nursing homes are changed through the legal actions of families who step up and fight for the rights of those residing in long-term care facilities. The legal process of filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit against the responsible party brings awareness to a serious issue. It also brings about better legislation to protect against nursing home abuse. Issues such as negligent hiring, unsanitary conditions, and substandard medical care can be addressed and prevented through the vigilant actions of personal injury lawyers who specialize in nursing home abuse cases.
Why Do People Choose Thomas Law Offices?
A personal injury matter is even more critical when it involves the abuse of a vulnerable adult. Our personal injury law firm specializes in a number of practice areas, but working to make every Louisville nursing home safer for residents is one of the most important things we do.
Our clients trust our law office to make the right decisions, prioritize the wellbeing of abuse survivors, and fight for full and fair compensation on behalf of victims—even pursuing punitive damages when applicable. We work tirelessly to defend the rights of our older adult friends, neighbors, and loved ones in Louisville, KY.
Thomas Law Offices is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation at our Louisville office.