When we have nowhere else to turn, we put our trust and the care of our elderly loved ones into the hands of nursing home staff. The last thing we want to discover is that our loved ones have been neglected or abused. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect happens all too often throughout the country.
Elder abuse refers to any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes serious risk or harm to a vulnerable adult. While elder abuse can happen in many places, it often affects the elders in assisted living or nursing home facilities. According to Ohio’s Department of Aging, 16,000 reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation are made each year within the state; however, it is estimated that these reports only represent one in 14 cases.
Even with the federal and state laws that exist to protect nursing home residents from abuse, staff members find ways to commit these heinous acts. If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, you should immediately file a report. It’s also a good idea to seek legal representation. An experienced attorney can help you seek justice for your loved one.
Even if you’re just starting to consider putting your loved one in a nursing home, it’s important to understand the types of nursing home abuse, how to recognize the signs your loved one is being neglected or abused, the state laws that protect your loved one, and how a Cincinnati nursing home abuse lawyer can help if you find yourself needing legal advice.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse recognizes the following types of abuse as serious problems: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, financial or material exploitation, and self-neglect. Abandonment and self-neglect are not directly tied to nursing homes. Let’s take a closer look at the types of abuse that are prevalent in elderly care facilities.
Physical abuse occurs when any sort of physical force results in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Nursing home staff members may strike, hit, beat, push, shove, shake, slap, kick, pinch, or burn residents. The inappropriate use of drugs or physical restraints is also considered physical abuse.
Your loved one may be a victim of physical abuse if they have bruises, welts, lacerations, broken bones, open wounds, broken glasses, or untreated injuries. If a caregiver refuses to allow you or other visitors to see your loved one alone, be suspicious.
Sexual abuse is defined as non-consensual contact of any kind with an elderly person. If the person cannot give consent, it is also considered sexual abuse.
The signs of sexual abuse include bruises, unexplained venereal diseases or infections, unexplained bleeding, and torn clothing.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse occurs when anguish, pain, or distress is inflicted through verbal or nonverbal acts. Examples include verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment. Psychological abuse can also occur when an elderly person is isolated from their family or fellow residents.
While emotional abuse is not visible to the eye, the signs and symptoms may include being emotionally upset or agitated, being extremely withdrawn or noncommunicative, or acting out of character.
Neglect is a broader category of abuse; however, it is defined as the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elder. This typically includes failing to provide life necessities like food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, and personal safety.
If your loved one is a victim of neglect, they may be dehydrated, malnourished, or dirty. They may have untreated health problems, or they may be living in unsafe or unsanitary living conditions.
Financial or Material Exploitation
Elders are at risk of being financially exploited. Financial or material exploitation is defined as the illegal use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets. If nursing home caregivers have access to bank accounts or credit card information, they may abuse that knowledge. Examples of financial or material exploitation include cashing a check without permission, forging a signature, misusing or stealing money or possessions, or the improper use of power of attorney.
If your loved one is being taken advantage of financially, you may notice sudden changes in their bank account, the inclusion of additional names on bank accounts or powers of attorney, abrupt changes in a will, unexplained money transfers, or unexplained disappearances of valuables.
Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Ohio
In light of the numerous instances of nursing home abuse and neglect, it’s important to become familiar with Ohio’s Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. This bill establishes what rights are afforded to residents of all nursing home facilities in Ohio.
These rights include:
- The right to be free from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect
- The right to a safe and clean living environment
- The right to have all questions responded to promptly
- The right to adequate medical care
- The right to access their medical records
- The right to clean clothing and bed sheets
- The right to privacy
- The right to file a complaint without the fear of repercussions
- The right to make decisions about their care
- The right to unrestricted communication with family members, social workers, and doctors
- The right to know how much their services cost
- The right to opportunities to remain active
- The right to observe religious obligations
- The right to retain personal possessions
- The right to be free from financial exploitation
If you believe a nursing home facility has allowed your loved one to be abused, you can file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Health. Keep in mind they normally do not process complaints in which the incident is more than one year old.
Hold the Negligent Party Responsible with an Ohio Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
The effects of nursing home abuse or neglect on your loved one can be detrimental. The physical and psychological effects may have a bigger impact than what is initially realized. While your loved one recovers, you have the right to contact a Cincinnati nursing home abuse attorney. We can help you hold the negligent party accountable for their actions, in hopes of seeking justice and preventing cases of future abuse. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your claim.