Is Nursing Home Abuse on the Rise?

By Marianne E. Kreisher Esq., CELA on December 31, 2017

aging-2379003_960_720As our loved ones age, we face difficult decisions about how, and where, to care for them. The decision to admit elderly relatives into an assisted living facility is never easy, but most of us do so because we are motivated by what is best for them. Unfortunately, the truth is that we cannot always trust nursing homes and caregivers to provide proper care for their patients.

The statistics paint a sad picture. An article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News points out that from 2011 to 2015, complaints about nursing homes rose by 33% – from 47,279 to well over 60,000. While the increase might mostly reflect better reporting, the number is still frighteningly high. The complaints ranged from simple neglect to abuse that put residents in “serious jeopardy.”

Elder abuse can take many forms, and it’s important for relatives to be alert for the warning signs. Broadly speaking, abuse falls under one of the following categories:

  • Physical
  • Psychological or emotional
  • Financial
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Sexual

In general, if one form of abuse is taking place, other types will be present as well. The symptoms of abuse are many and varied. You should watch for any of the following:

  • Bruising or scarring
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Mood swings and/or depression
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration

Financial abuse can be harder to detect if you aren’t specifically on the lookout for it. Possible indicators include:

  • Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Missing cash or belongings
  • Unpaid bills
  • Unnecessary purchases, deliveries, or services
  • Missing bank and financial statements.

Senior citizens are often the target of scams that take advantage of their loneliness, isolation, or diminishing mental faculties.

If your loved one is living in an assisted care facility, the abusers will not always be employees of the center. They could be outside solicitors, visitors, or other family members. The abuse might even be self-inflected. However, these facilities have an obligation to care for their patients and the failure to do so because of negligence means they can be found legally responsible for a patient’s injuries. Because of their declining health, which can lead to dementia, loss of memory, and confusion, the elderly are especially vulnerable.

Pennsylvania has very strict laws that protect senior citizens from abuse, including a bill of nursing home resident rights. If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, then you deserve to be fully compensated. The legal team at the Law Offices of Kreisher & Gregorowicz has the experience and resources to advocate on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call (570) 784-5211 today.

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Posted in: Elder Law