Selecting a nursing home or assisted living facility for your loved one is often a stressful and draining task. Family members will often visit several nursing homes or assisted living facilities and conduct as much research as possible to ensure they’re making the best possible decision for their loved one. But, regardless of how confident a family is in their nursing home or living facility selection, the hard truth is that no one can know for certain if their loved one is being treated reasonably all of the time in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. For this reason, it’s important for anyone whose loved one is an assisted living facility or nursing home resident to know the warning signs of nursing home abuse or neglect.
At Curcio Law Offices, we fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. We believe that any type of nursing home abuse is avoidable and that no elderly person should suffer in their last years of life. If you believe that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Curcio Law Offices for a free legal case review. All information is confidential through client privilege, so you won’t risk the nursing home staff hurting your loved one by making the phone call!
Nursing Home Neglect vs. Nursing Home Abuse
When people hear nursing home abuse allegations, they often envision a narrow description that only involves serious injuries appearing on nursing home residents. However, there are several other forms of nursing home abuse that can cause your loved one’s health to drastically decline, such as nursing home neglect.
While nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are both severe forms of elder abuse or mistreatment, the two are different. The main distinction between the two is intent.
Nursing home abuse is an intentional, deliberate act that results in the decline of the resident’s health or poses a serious risk to the resident’s health. Nursing home abuse can be physical abuse or emotional abuse.
Nursing home neglect is a type of nursing home abuse that is characterized by the lack of action to fulfill certain duties or obligations. Usually, nursing home neglect is passive in nature. This is why the main difference between abuse and neglect is intent. However, in certain rare situations, a caregiver may intentionally neglect nursing home residents.
Regardless of whether you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected, you should always know your options. At Curcio Law Offices, our first priority is the safety of your loved one and would never do anything to jeopardize their well being unnecessarily.
We’ll go over the warning signs of both nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect below.
What are Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
We understand that nursing home residents won’t always be happy. In fact, many residents will let family members know that they want to go home. While this hurts to hear, please understand that this is normal. What isn’t normal, on the other hand, is when your loved one’s disposition suddenly changes. If you notice that your loved one has drastic changes in his or her personality, or if you sense a tension between your loved one and a caregiver, you need to look for additional signs of nursing home abuse.
According to a recent study, victims of elder abuse are twice as likely to die prematurely than those who aren’t abused. So, while we don’t want anyone to worry unnecessarily, we also want to provide our fellow Chicagoans with all of the information necessary to keep our elderly neighbors safe.
Signs of Physical Abuse and Neglect
Physical neglect occurs when a nursing home resident is deprived of anything necessary for not only survival, but also dignity. This can include food, water, a sanitary environment, etc.
Physical abuse in nursing homes occurs whenever a nursing home resident suffers from bodily harm, impairment, or pain because of mistreatment.
Physical abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility can consist of:
- Physical neglect
- Active physical abuse (slapping, punching, hitting, kicking, etc.)
- The misuse of physical restraints
In Chicago nursing homes, the nursing home staff members are only supposed to use restraints out of medical necessity, and they’re only intended to be used for short periods of time. When nursing home residents are kept on restraints for extended periods of time, this can reduce their muscle tone and bone mass. It can also lead to muscle disorders and other serious injuries.
In most cases, nursing home caregivers and other nursing home residents are the primary abusers in the nursing home or assisted living facility setting. Several studies show that physical abuse is often a form of retaliation against aggressive patients who act out due to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia, or other conditions that result in a mental health decline.
Signs of Emotional Abuse and Neglect
Emotional abuse and neglect refers to any non-physical abuse or verbal abuse, including:
Emotional abuse and neglect can also include depriving a nursing home resident of his or her dignity. One common example is a nursing home staff member leaving the resident in soiled clothing for extended periods of time. Another example is refusing to let the resident make basic decisions that he or she is capable of making for themself.
According to a recent WHO study, emotional abuse is the most common form of nursing home abuse. Almost one third of all nursing home employees admitted to emotionally abusing one of their patients.
Noticing the warning signs for emotional abuse in a Chicago nursing home can be slightly more challenging to notice compared to broken bones. Signs of emotional abuse in older adults present as peculiar behaviors, hardly noticed (if ever) by family members. These odd mannerisms include oddities such as sucking thumbs, rocking back and forth, mumbling, or failing to speak at all.
If your loved one states that he or she feels neglected, it’s imperative that you start looking for signs or emotional neglect immediately, as picking up on these warning signs could stop their health decline, especially if he or she has preexisting mental health problems. Most nursing home residents would prefer to be around old friends or family members in the comfort of their own home. So, it can be difficult to distinguish your loved one’s wishful thoughts from cries for help.
First and foremost, don’t ignore your gut. While you may not be able to make an iron-clad legal case with a gut feeling, you certainly don’t want to ignore any sinking feelings you get around certain staff members.
If you notice that your loved one is separated from other nursing home residents during feedings or physical activity time, ask the nursing home workers why. And, if you start to see a pattern forming, you’re likely witnessing intentional emotional neglect.
Our experienced Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys can instruct you on what steps to take if you believe your loved one is a victim of emotional abuse or neglect in a Chicago nursing home or assisted living facility. We want to preserve your loved one’s mental health to the best of our ability, so it’s important that you call as soon as you recognize a pattern of elder neglect.
Signs of Medical Neglect
Nursing home neglect refers to a nursing home caretaker’s failure to provide adequate shelter, food, protection, or medical care.
General nursing home neglect can lead to:
- Bedsore injuries
- Choking accidents
- Clogged breathing tubes
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Infections, such as UTI infections
As we previously mentioned, nursing home neglect is different from nursing home abuse in that neglect occurs as a result of an unintentional act. The most common example of nursing home neglect is when a nursing home caretaker fails to reposition one of the nursing home residents, and the resident develops a bedsore as a result.
Medical neglect is a huge problem for Chicago nursing homes. This occurs when staff members fail to provide adequate medical care for nursing home residents.
Medical neglect may include:
- Improper medical care for existing health conditions, such as diabetes
- Medication errors or failure to administer medications in a timely manner
- Not regularly moving immobile seniors, putting them at risk for bedsores
- Failure to report signs of infection or illness
For most families, the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility only comes after the realization that their loved one needs medical treatment that the family members simply cannot provide.
So, when your loved one’s health starts to decline unnecessarily, this can be extremely frustrating, at best.
Elderly residents who are immobile are at the highest risk for medical neglect. Bedsores that have progressed to a stage 4 bedsore injury are not only a cause for concern, they’re usually a clearcut case of extreme nursing home neglect.
The best way to ensure that your loved one isn’t a victim of medical neglect in a nursing home is to physically check your loved one for sores, ask for their medical information at every visit, or install a granny-cam into your loved ones room (if the nursing home allows).
Signs of Hygiene Neglect
As we mentioned earlier, nursing home neglect occurs any time a nursing home resident is deprived of their basic necessities. Most people would agree that basic hygiene is a right for nursing home residents.
While many assume that hygiene isn’t or shouldn’t be included in elder neglect cases, unfortunately, many of our local Chicago nursing homes have taken the lack of hygiene care to extremes due to inadequate staffing issues. And because federal regulations aren’t regularly enforced, many residents in Chicago nursing homes face personal hygiene issues and unsanitary living conditions. Inadequate staffing isn’t a good excuse for any type of elder neglect. Nursing homes receive federal funding to ensure safe living conditions, and furthermore, your family or loved one pays for services that are not being rendered.
Serious harm can come from neglecting residents’ essential personal hygiene needs.
Common examples of hygiene neglect in nursing homes include:
- Failure to bathe nursing home residents on a regular basis
- Improper disease control measures when changing/cleaning clothing and bedding
- Failure to change nursing home residents after they’ve soiled themselves
- Failure to take proper care of resident’s eyes, ears, nails, etc
When personal hygiene is not a top priority for staff members, the chances of physical health issues, such as bedsores, increase.
If family members don’t speak up when they notice the warning signs of hygiene neglect, the nursing staff members may assume that you’re satisfied with how they’re treating your loved one and begin to use more of their time with other residents. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. And while you certainly don’t want to be a nuisance, you do need to make sure that nursing home employees take proper care of your loved one.
While your loved one missing a bath or two may seem insignificant, if the nursing home staff is neglecting your loved one’s personal hygiene, chances are that they’re neglecting residents in other ways, as well. The sooner you’re able to catch and report nursing home neglect, the better the chances are for your loved one, as well as other elderly residents.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is any form or non-consensual sexual contact with a nursing home resident. And, like hygiene neglect, nursing home sexual abuse is rampant in the Chicago area.
The most common signs of sexual abuse include unexplained infections in the genital region or an unexplained diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease. Sadly, many times, sexual abuse goes unnoticed by family members until their loved one sustains a physical injury that’s bad enough to land them in the local emergency room. We’ve seen many cases where an emergency room staff member discloses information to the family concerning torn or bloody undergarments or unexplained injuries inside the genital regions themselves.
If your loved one has bruised breasts or genitals, unexplained vaginal or anal medical conditions, or starts becoming obsessed with covering these regions, call our offices or adult protective services immediately. These are the best warning signs you’re going to get.
It’s important to note that sexual abuse isn’t always perpetrated by nursing home staff. In many cases, nursing home residents sexually abuse other residents. In either case, it is the nursing home facility’s job to ensure your loved one’s safety, including keeping them safe from other residents.
Regardless of understaffing issues or excuses, nursing home administrators who condone or fail to notice or act on the warning signs of sexual abuse should also be held accountable for their negligent actions, as well as the sexual perpetrator.
How Family Members Can Prevent Nursing Home Abuse
Elder abuse and neglect can be difficult to pinpoint. For many families, detecting abuse or neglect started with a hunch or a sinking feeling when they visited the nursing home or assisted living facility.
When your loved one resides in a care facility, always make it a point to observe staff members. Pay attention to how they interact with your loved one as well as with other residents. When a nursing home staff member provides an assessment or offers professional medical advice, either record or write down what they say. Sometimes, their inconsistencies will provide enough evidence to move forward.
Take note of how staff members react when a fellow staff member loses his or her cool temporarily. This will let you know how commonplace potential verbal or physical abuse may be in the nursing home.
If your loved one is an assisted living facility or nursing home resident in Chicago and you’ve witnessed any of the aforementioned unexplained injuries or a decline in mental health, call our offices for a free legal case review. When nursing homes or assisted living facilities fail to provide proper care and the nursing home staff members’ negligence causes a decline in health conditions, your loved one could be entitled to significant compensation.
A Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer from Curcio Law Offices can help you seek professional medical advice for your loved one while we compile the evidence that’s necessary to move forward with your loved one’s nursing home abuse claim.
Additionally, if your loved one died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect and you failed to recognize the subtle warning signs, our law firm is still here for your family. We may be able to secure financial compensation through a Chicago nursing home wrongful death case. Your loved one’s death doesn’t have to be in vain. With the help of our experienced wrongful death lawyers, you may be able to hold the assisted living facility or nursing home accountable for their actions or lack thereof. Seeking justice after the fact will help other older adults who are still under negligent or abusive supervision.
Protecting Chicago Nursing Home Residents from Abuse and Neglect Since 1957
If you’ve noticed that the warning signs for nursing home abuse or neglect occurring, regardless of whether its financial abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, or physical abuse, please contact Curcio Law Offices at 312-321-1111 for a free legal case review. Your loved one has a right to receive proper care, and our lawyers will do our best to hold negligent or abusive nursing home staff members accountable.