One of the more common estate litigation topics people are concerned about is the possibility of nursing home abuse or neglect. Over 2 million people reside in a nursing home or assisted living facility, and thousands of cases of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation occur every year. According to national survey figures, 44% of nursing home residents say that they have personally experienced abuse, while 95% say they have either been neglected, or have seen other residents suffer neglect.
Abuse and neglect in a nursing home environment can be a difficult issue to think about, especially when you’re worried that it’s happening to a loved one. Here are some important facts you should know about nursing home abuse and neglect.
Abuse or Neglect in a Nursing Home
Abuse and neglect are not the same thing. In general, neglect occurs when a nursing home fails to provide a resident with adequate care, support, or assistance. For example, nursing homes have a duty to ensure that their residents receive appropriate food and nutrition. When nursing home staff fails to monitor elderly residents who are unable to feed themselves, those residents can lose weight, experience emotional trauma, and develop medical complications.
Abuse is best thought of as something that goes beyond negligence. Where negligence is an omission or a mistake, abuse is an intentional harm. For example, an elderly person who resides in a nursing home and who needs assistance can be neglected if nursing home staff forget to provide the proper help. In an abusive situation, the nursing home staff actively seek to harm the elderly person.
Types of Abuse
Nursing home abuse comes in many different forms. When people think of abuse, they typically think of physical or sexual abuse. However, emotional, financial, and psychological abuse are also possible. In some situations, more than one abuse takes place at the same time, or as the result of different actions by different nursing home staff personnel.
For example, an elderly person who is unable to look after his or her own hygiene will need the assistance of a nursing home staff person to regularly bathe. If the nursing home staff member hits, scratches, or physically harms the elderly person during this process, that’s physical elder abuse.
At the same time, that elderly person could be suffering financial abuse at the hands of another staff member. A member of the nursing home staff who uses his or her position to find out important personal details about the elderly person can use that information to commit identity theft.
Regardless of your situation, you need to speak to your lawyer about nursing home abuse and neglect if you have any question or concerns.