Nursing Homes and Elder Abuse
As our “greatest generation” ages, more and more of them are relocating to assisted care or nursing homes. Currently, there are approximately 1.5 million Americans in nursing homes. Our elder family members and citizens deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They should also have their physical and mental needs taken care of while they are in a nursing home.
Elder abuse is defined as any mistreatment that is committed by someone with whom the elder has a special relationship (such as a spouse, sibling, child, or caregiver). There is a subset of this abuse, called “Institutional Abuse”, which is any form of abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual) exploitation, neglect, or abandonment that occurs in a residential treatment facility. This type of abuse usually occurs by someone who has a contractual or legal obligation to provide some element of care or protection.
The National Center on Elder Abuse released statistics based on a study of hundreds of individuals. From this study, they found that:
- 7.9-10% of the study participants experienced abuse in the previous year
- Approximately 90% of abusers are found to be family members, including: adult children, spouses, and partners
- A sample of 200 women with disabilities indicated that 67% had experienced physical abuse and 53% had experienced sexual abuse
- A study of 342 adult men found that 55% had experienced physical abuse after becoming disabled. Roughly 12% of those men indicated that a “personal assistance service provider” had abused them over their lifetime.
Unfortunately, some nursing homes cut corners and cut staff so the corporation can maximize its profit. This desire for huge profit puts elder loved ones at a serious risk. There are some warning signs that you can look for if you suspect a loved one is experiencing elder abuse. These signs include:
- Unexplained bruises, pressure marks, broken bones or other injuries
- Withdrawing from normal activities, unusual change in mood or sudden onset of depression
- Sudden changes in financial situation, which may be a sign of exploitation
- Bedsores, poor hygiene, or unusual weight loss, which may be a sign of neglect.
In addition to these warning signs, researchers state that there are some significant factors that may make an elder more vulnerable to abuse, including dementia and cognitive impairment, a continued abusive relationship with a spouse, or adult children who have a mental illness or addiction problem. For more resources on elder abuse, please visit the National Center on Elder Abuse and Administration on Aging.
Nationally, about 2/3 of the seniors abused are reported to be women. Our nursing home abuse lawyers have frequently handled elder physical abuse cases arising out of nursing home neglect. These cases are especially tragic because they involved the lack of care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. If you have a loved one who may have been the subject of abuse or neglect at a nursing home or other medical provider facility, please contact our nursing home abuse lawyers to discuss your case.
It is common for nursing homes to put arbitration clauses in their admissions forms. What this arbitration clause does is prevent a senior citizen or family member from filing a civil lawsuit against the corporation in the event the senior is injured while at the nursing home. In other words, if you sign an arbitration clause, you cannot sue the corporation even if one of the corporation’s employees deliberately hurts your loved one. If the nursing home you are considering insists on an arbitration clause, say no and find another nursing home.
If you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect in the Jackson, Mississippi area, please contact Coxwell & Associates, PLLC today to schedule your private consultation.