Nursing Home Abuse Guide

As medical technology increases people’s life expectancy, the elderly population is skyrocketing. By the year 2050, 20% of the US population will be over the age of 65 for the first time.

While Americans may be living longer, many seniors have health issues that prevent them from caring for themselves. Texas has the most nursing homes and some of the worst care according to CMS.

We trust these facilities to take care of our loved ones and they are failing. Too often, we see Texas nursing homes underfunded, understaffed, and poorly managed. These companies put profit over patient care and our most vulnerable are the victims.

We don't truly know how many nursing home residents get abused or neglected every year. The National Council on Aging estimates that one in 10 Americans over 60 have been victims of some type of elderly abuse. Elderly abuse usually happens in secret by people who appear trustworthy. Those suffering from dementia are especially vulnerable to common types of elderly abuse.

Types of Abuse

Abuse in nursing homes can happen to anyone. Some types of abuse happen more often than others, but all are unacceptable. Every state has laws to help prevent elderly abuse. Sadly, it continues in the following forms:

  • Physical Abuse – physically hurting a resident, or employing inappropriate physical or pharmaceutical restraints.
  • Sexual Abuse – any type of non-consensual sexual contact.
  • Neglect – failing to provide food, shelter, clothing, health care or other vital needs of residents.
  • Emotional Abuse – causing mental suffering, distress or anguish to residents. This can be verbal or nonverbal and include humiliation, intimidation or threats.
  • Abandonment – deserting a resident who is unable to care for him or herself.

Signs of Abuse

Signs of elderly abuse and neglect can be subtle. But if you have a loved one in a nursing home, keep your eyes open. Document any possible signs you see. It you notice suspicious signs or start to see patterns, take action immediately.

Here are a few common signs of elderly abuse and neglect:

  • Bed sores (also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers)
  • FallsBroken bones
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Dehydration
  • Severe or repeated infections
  • Torn clothing
  • Agitation
  • Withdrawing, refusing to communicate
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Unexplained injuries, such as broken bones
  • Not wanting to speak when staff members are present
  • Dirty sheets, towels, and room
  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Heavy medication, especially sedatives
  • Frequent illnesses that aren’t reported to the family or doctor
  • Frequent hospitalizations for injuries

What To Do

There are many ways to prevent elderly abuse, but if you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected, take action now. The first and most important step is to ensure the safety of your loved one. If the environment is unsafe or dangerous, remove them from the situation immediately.

Next, report the incident. In Texas you should contact Texas Health and Human Services (THHS) at 1-800-458-9858 to file an official report. You can also contact the National Center on Elder Abuse at 1-800-677-1116. You can also reach out to your local ombudsman who can send someone to the facility to check on your loved one.

Finally, consult an attorney. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to evaluate the situation and help you figure out what next steps to take. If you are even considering pursuing a lawsuit, the sooner you consult a nursing home abuse attorney, the better. Each lawsuit has statutes of limitations (or a certain amount of time) that they must be filed by. The more time you can give the nursing home attorney to review the information, prepare the needed documents, and file the lawsuit, the better the outcome.

 

At Powers Taylor, we are fight for those without a voice. When nursing homes break the trust you put in them, we are here to fight for you and your loved one. If you’re in this heartbreaking situation, don’t hesitate. Pick up the phone and call us immediately. Our experienced and compassionate team is waiting to help.

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