There are several American’s that entrust a nursing home facility to take care and look after their loved ones; the majority of those elderly nursing home residents are well cared for. However, what should you do if you are concerned about the care your loved one is receiving in a nursing home? Are Alabama nursing homes regulated by the state? What are some indicators of neglect and substandard care that a person should be watching for?
There are over a million people in the U.S. that are residents in a nursing home. The majority of these nursing home residents are incapable of taking care of themselves and rely completely on the staff of the nursing home to help them meet their daily needs. The expectation is that the nursing homes provide skilled care for those disabled or elderly residents.
Unfortunately, we are seeing an increasing decline in quality of care over the past decade in the nursing home industry. There are several recent studies that indicate neglect or abuse of nursing home residents; most are at the fault of the nursing homes and their staff. There are many cases of deaths or serious abuse due to neglect of these nursing home residents.
Abuse and Neglect
Those that are able to watch for and spot the warning signs of a potential abuse issue are able to ask for help. Listed below are some of the common types of elder abuse to watch for. Keep in mind that elder abuse can present itself both in physical form as well as psychological or fraud/financial.
Physical abuse can be defined as someone using physical force that could result in physical pain, impairment or bodily injury. This type of physical abuse could include, but no limited to, acts of violence such as striking a person, beating, hitting, shoving, pushing, slapping, shaking, pinching, kicking, and burning. Some other types in addition to those would involve force-feeding, inappropriate use of physical restraints and drugs, and physical punishment. Some of the symptoms and signs are:
- black eyes, bruises, lacerations, welts and rope marks;
- broken bones, bone fractures, and skull fractures;
- open cuts, wounds, punctures, and any injuries left untreated during the different stages of healing;
- internal bleeding/injuries, dislocations, and sprains;
- physical signs of being punished, signs of someone using restraints, and broken eyeglasses;
- findings from a lab that shows misuse of medications (overdose or under utilized);
- a report by an elder where they were slapped, hit, kicked or mistreated;
- the sudden change in behavior of an elder;
- a caregiver’s refusal for visitors to spend time along with the elder.
Sexual abuse exists when there is an elderly person who experiences non-consensual sexual contact of any kind. Sexual abuse can also exist in situations where a person is not capable of granting consent. This type of elder abuse includes, but is not limited to, all types of sexual assault or battery (sodomy, rape, coerced nudity, and photography that is sexually explicit). Some of the signs and symptoms include:
- inability to explain a venereal disease or genital infection;
- bruises near an elders breasts or genital area;
- vaginal or anal bleeding that can not be explained;
- a report of sexual assault or rape by an elder; and
- stained, bloody, or torn underwear.
Emotional or psychological abuse is when an elder experiences pain or distress from spoken or unspoken acts. Some types of abuse can include situations where someone verbally assaults, threatens, insults, humiliates, intimidates, or harasses an elderly person. Other examples include: isolating an elder from friends and family members; treating an elder like a child; forcing isolation on an elder; giving an older person the “silent treatment;” and enforced social isolation. Some of the signs or symptoms of this type of abuse include:
- the elder is non responsive and seem to be extremely withdrawn;
- an elders are emotionally agitated or upset;
- they start to show similar behavior traits for someone who has dementia: biting, sucking, rocking; and
- a report filed by an elder of being mistreated.
Neglect of an elder is the failure or refusal to satisfy the needs of an elder. This type of abuse can also include financial needs of an elderly person.
Failure to provide an older person with basic life needs such as water, food, shelter, clothing, medicine, personal hygiene, safety, comfort is considered neglect. Some common signs or symptoms of neglect are:
- dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene;
- poor personal hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, and untreated bed sores;
- heath concerns that are left unattended or untreated;
- unclean living conditions;
- lack of safe living conditions;
- a report filed by an older person of being mistreated.
Material or financial exploitation of an elderly person can be defined as the improper or illegal management of funds, assets, or property. Some sample scenarios of this type of abuse are: forging an elder person’s signature; cashing personal checks without permission; forcing an elderly person to sign a document under false pretenses; stealing possessions or money; abuse of a power regarding a guardianship, conservatorship, or power of attorney. Some of the signs and symptoms regarding this type of abuse are:
- adding on names to an older person’s bank signature card;
- unexplained withdrawals of money by someone in the presence of the elderly person;
- sudden changes to financial documents or a will;
- unauthorized ATM withdrawals;
- bills left unpaid or substandard care provided even though the funds are available;
- valuable possessions that are suddenly missing;
- relatives suddenly claiming rights to an elderly persons possessions;
- discovery of a forged document;
- sudden changes or transfers of assets;
- an elderly person claiming being taking advantage of regarding their finances.
The most crucial key is to be aware. Older people often suffer silently. Take note of any behavior or personality changes.