It’s been a few months since your grandmother moved into a long-term facility. At first, everything was fine, but you’ve noticed some changes recently. Your grandmother is unusually quiet and, while she claims her bruised arm was caused by bumping into a table, something seems wrong.
No one wants to think about a loved one being abused in a nursing home but, tragically, it occurs. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), as many as one in 10 elderly people experience some form of abuse at the hands of their caregivers. The abuse may be physical or emotional, or could involve exploitation (such as stealing money or other items), neglect or abandonment. Regardless of the form it takes, elder abuse is a serious and growing problem in Florida. At the Fernandez Firm, we help families get justice for helpless victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Is Your Loved One Being Abused?
According to the NCEA, actual statistics regarding elder abuse may not be entirely accurate, in large part because many victims either do not realize they are being abused or are reluctant to report the problem. That’s why it is critical that caregivers and loved ones be alert to potential signs of nursing home abuse, including:
- Obvious physical signs of injury. This includes cuts, bruises and broken bones that are not consistent with reported accidents.
- Signs of neglect. Obvious lack of bathing, personal care, lack of clean linens, toileting assistance and supplies.
- Bed sores. Inadequate staffing and failure to turn and position elderly residents regularly can lead to the development of avoidable bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers).
- Behavioral changes. Is your loved one less talkative than usual, or does he seem depressed? Is she reluctant to discuss her caregivers or her life in the facility?
- Few opportunities to be alone with your loved one. Is there an employee who always seems to be nearby when you visit? Does your loved one seems reluctant to speak while the employee is present?
While not all of these issues are 100-percent indicative of abuse and neglect, it’s important to investigate your suspicions.
What to Do
The first step whenever you suspect abuse is to speak with your loved one. If your concerns are valid, or if your loved one is reluctant to talk, go to the facility manager to get an explanation or launch a formal investigation.
By law, facilities must have a policy in place for handling such complaints. If the matter is not addressed to your satisfaction, or if the problem continues, escalate your action. Contact a qualified elder abuse attorney who can advise you on the appropriate steps, such as filing a formal complaint with the appropriate local and state authorities. The attorneys of the Fernandez Firm are experienced in this area of the law and can help you determine the best course of action for your family. We can help you navigate the complexities of elder law and get compensation for your loved ones injury.
Should you suspect your loved one is in danger, immediately call 911 and remove him or her from the facility. Do not wait to take action if you suspect neglect or abuse; your loved one is counting on you to protect them.