Nursing Home Abuse and Elder Abuse
Nursing home abuse has become a significant issue in Maryland, specifically as the population ages, and a common problem in the United States with over half a million elders abused each year. Elders who have been abused suffer from a medley of negative impacts to their health and well-being and many of these cases should be represented by a skilled and experienced nursing home abuse attorney.
There are some environmental and individual risk factors that can increase the likelihood of elder abuse occurring. Physical injury and pain are the easiest, most identifiable instances of abuse. However, elder abuse can worsen existing medical conditions, sometimes causing new illnesses to arise. When the body is wasting its resources fighting preventable injuries, it’s more likely to suffer from other medical issues that would otherwise be manageable. The most severe cases of elder abuse—emotional abuse and neglect—can result in death.
All types of elder abuse in nursing homes can have serious consequences for the victim, which is why it’s so important that our loved ones are protected from physical, emotional, sexual, negligent and financial abuse.
Caregivers, like those at a nursing home, are the most likely to commit elder abuse. This includes formal institutions, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as family caretakers within the home. According to the best estimates, about 1-2 million U.S. citizens 65 years of age or older have been mistreated, exploited or injured by a caregiver. If you suspect a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, contact a personal injury law firm such as Potter Burnett Law in Bowie, Maryland.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Elder Abuse
Various types of elder abuse occur within a range of severity resulting in mild to severe outcomes. The most devastating cases of elder abuse may result in death.
The five recognized major types of elder abuse are:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
Statistically, the most frequently reported form of elder abuse is physical abuse—when nursing home patients are physically hurt by a caregiver. This also includes a caregiver failing to have proper safety measures in place to prevent physical injuries. The second most frequently reported form of elder abuse is psychological abuse, followed by elder neglect and nursing home neglect. Sexual abuse and financial abuse have the lowest number of complaints but remain very common occurrences. In so many instances of reported cases, one form of abuse will always overlap another form of abuse. As an example, elders who are sexually abused are usually often physically and emotionally abused as well.
Detecting elder abuse can prove to be a very difficult and challenging exercise. Aging bodies are more susceptible to illness, wounds, and everyday perils, making it a challenge to determine whether or not abuse has actually occurred. The embarrassment elders often feel about their abuse—compounded by the shame—prevents abused individuals from coming forward with a claim. Potter Burnett Law makes sure to enlist highly qualified subject matter experts in order to properly identify signs of elderly abuse on your loved ones.
Individuals with mental impairments, including dementia, are individuals that are most likely to be targeted for abuse. In fact, about half of these individuals appear to have been the victims of some form of abuse or neglect in their lifetime.
Elder and nursing home abuse can also psychologically influence individuals. These victims are more likely to become depressed, fearful or anxious. They may withdraw from social interaction and become isolated from their surroundings, essentially destroying their quality of life.
Elderly Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is a very common form of abuse that elders can easily fall victim to. Especially as technologies advance and elders become more reliant on the advice and care of others. There are numerous forms of financial abuse, including scams, fraud, and theft, although many are subtle.
Missing Money or Property
While under the care of a nursing home facility, your family members or loved ones may be subject to non-physical abuse. This comes in the form of financial abuse in attempts to secure some of the patient’s money or property. Historically, the elderly have felt pressure to revise wills, deeds, and trusts to compensate their care providers. It doesn’t stop there, nursing home patients have withdrawn cash from accounts, or taken out loans that were then turned over to their caregivers. Unlike other forms of elder abuse, financial abuse often preys on individuals without other impairments. The most common profile for financial abuse victims is widows or widowers in their 70’s-80’s who still live independently within a community.
Nursing Home patients have reported loss or theft of personal property, in this case, file a police report immediately, and then contact a legal professional to assist you in the matter.
The following are also signs of financial elder abuse:
- Unexplained transactions or withdrawals
- A sudden change in financial circumstance
- Overdue bills that were thought to be paid
- Inability to access money
- Loss of control over financial decisions
- Pressure to donate, share or lend money (or assets)
Fear of a Caregiver
A nursing home patient who is the victim of any form of abuse or neglect will likely grow fearful of a caregiver. If your loved one is showing signs that indicate fear such as acting disconnected from family and friends or acting out in a different way, they may be receiving poor and unlawful treatment related to nursing home abuse.
Potter Burnett Law will carefully review the evidence or signs to ensure that the patient is placed out of harm’s way and receives justice where due. The lawyers at Potter Burnett Law in Bowie, MD have the experience to represent you and your loved ones in cases of nursing home abuse and elder abuse.