According to the World Health Organization (WHO) September 2016 fact sheet, around 1 in 10 older people experience some form of nursing home abuse every month. Whether physical, emotional, sexual, or financial, the abuse can come as an isolated incident or a repeated act, or abuse can come from a lack of appropriate action (neglect) that results in an elder’s injuries or death.
At the Love Law Firm, Charleston WV nursing home abuse attorney Charles M. Love seeks to reduce abuse in West Virginia nursing homes by providing victims and their families with expert legal counsel as well as comprehensive, aggressive, professional, and compassionate representation.
Elder abuse is a public health problem, but it is severely underreported. In fact, it is estimated that only 1 in 24 cases of elder nursing home abuse are reported. The abusive acts in a nursing home can include physically restraining patients, depriving them of dignity and choice over daily affairs, intentionally providing insufficient care, over- and under-medicating and withholding medication from patients; and emotional neglect and abuse.
The causes of nursing home abuse are generally well-documented and can help prevent future instances of abuse, although it’s essential to remember that some cases of nursing home abuse can arise spontaneously and without pretext.
Causes of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Elder abuse is a complex sociological and cultural problem. However, continued research on the causes of nursing home abuse and neglect can be even more important than research on prevalence, as studying the causes of nursing home abuse can indicate clues for prevention.
In general, the most common perpetrators of nursing home abuse include the staff and caregivers, the victim’s own family members, and other residents. With regards to abuse carried out by nursing home staff, there are some widely accepted factors, including:
- Stressful working situations
- Staffing shortages
- Staff burnout (staffing shortages combined with mandatory overtime)
- Combination of resident aggression and poor staff training
Staff shortages and insufficient training are regarded as the most potent factors that have a high risk for leading to abuse.
Preventing Abuse By Looking for Risk Factors for Elders Living in Nursing Homes
There are many different types of risk factors and that could increase the possibility of abuse and neglect, and instead of identifying elder abuse (after the cause), it can be important to be diligent and pay attention to the nursing home facility and staff. Remember, a shared-living situation where the elders are dependent on the caregivers is considered a risk factor on its own. However, you shouldn’t be concerned unless you witness or suspect some of the following circumstances:
- Social isolation and a lack of social support
- Depictions of the elderly as frail, weak, and dependent
- Low standards of health care and welfare services
- Poorly trained, remunerated, and overworked staff
- Deficient care facilities and physical environments
- Nursing home policies that benefit the interests of the staff as opposed to the residents
Identifying Elder Abuse & Neglect
Elder abuse can be difficult for families to accept. Nobody wants to think that abuse might be happening in their loved one’s nursing home, or that the caregivers they trusted are doing something unthinkable. Nevertheless, it’s important to always be aware of certain risk factors so that you can better identify and resolve instances of elder abuse and neglect.
To start, it’s best to consider the main categories of abuse and neglect, including:
- Physical elder abuse — Look for bruises, unexplained injuries, or a refusal to seek medical help for injuries. Also, look for marks on the wrists and ankles that could indicate that the elder is being restrained and, after approaching staff with your concerns, dismissive reactions.
- Emotional elder abuse — Some signs could include an elder who is unresponsive to questions, fearful or suspicious, unwilling to go to social outings, and who experiences sudden unexplained changes in behavior.
- Financial elder abuse — Some signs could include large withdrawals, unusual ATM activity, sudden increases in credit card debt, or forged checks.
- Sexual elder abuse — Signs of sexual elder abuse can look like a combination of physical and emotional elder abuse. Other signs can include STDs, difficulties sitting or walking, emerging PTSD symptoms, and inappropriate or unusual sexual behavior.
It is always essential to include neglect into the above-mentioned categories. Elder neglect manifests in several ways, and, in general, seniors being neglect often have poor hygiene and eating habits. Victims also may show a loss of weight, sunken eyes, pressure sores, and dirty clothes.
Call Charleston WV Nursing Home Attorney Charles M. Love
Unfortunately, as we’ve seen as Charleston WV nursing home abuse attorneys, there are no “black and white” situations. In other words, a nursing home may seem perfect, but that doesn’t change the fact that abuse and neglect could still occur.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, it’s essential to report it as soon as possible. At the Love Law Firm, we will carefully and empathetically work with you to build a strong case with the goal of holding the responsible individuals accountable for their nefarious or negligent actions. If you would like to speak with Charleston WV nursing home abuse attorney Charles Love, call the Love Law Firm today at (304) 344 5683.