November 11th, 2019| Whether it’s due to their advanced age or health problems that can’t be managed without dedicated care, making the decision to move your loved one into a nursing home can be extremely difficult for both them and for you. They may be reluctant to give up their freedom and independence, while you may be worried about the level of care and attention they’ll receive. Sadly, the latter is a valid concern for many families when their loved ones move into nursing facilities—especially when those facilities value profits over resident safety and health. Elder abuse and neglect are more common than you might think, especially in nursing homes. Furthermore, they’re often underreported. An alert issued by the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services in August 2017 indicated than more than a quarter of serious nursing home abuse cases aren’t reported to police. Many victims are either unable to report the abuse they suffer, or they’re intimidated into remaining silent by their abusers.
What Are The Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?Although nursing home residents can be abused or neglected in many different ways, there are a few common types that are often seen among victims:
Common types of abuse
- Physical abuse—Just as the phrase implies, physical abuse involves residents being physically harmed by nursing home staff members or even other residents. It can include physical contact such as hitting, shoving, biting, slapping, shaking, burning, the use of physical restraints, and even forced feeding. Signs of physical abuse may include bruising, bleeding, open wounds, broken bones, burns, and more.
- Sexual abuse—Nursing home residents also may be at risk of sexual abuse, including unwanted touching, sexual assault, and rape. Signs of sexual assault include unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, bruises on or around the genitals, bleeding, and torn, soiled, or stained underwear and clothing.
- Emotional and psychological abuse—Residents don’t have to be physically touched or harmed to be abused. Types of emotional and psychological abuse include residents being yelled at, insulted, threatened, humiliated, or made to feel unwanted. When nursing homes residents are emotionally abused, they may become withdrawn, anxious, depressed, or even develop dementia-like symptoms.
- Financial abuse—Whether it’s personal property that’s stored in their rooms, or personal assets stored in bank accounts, stock portfolios, or real estate investments, nursing home residents may have their possessions taken from them by staff. Examples include petty theft of personal possessions, using residents’ debit and credit cards, forging residents’ signatures, or forcing residents to sign unwanted contracts.
Common types of neglect
- Lack of access to basic requirements—Nursing home residents should have easy and convenient access to water, food, clothing, shelter, medication, hygiene products, baths, and a bed. When any of those requirements are restricted or taken away, it can result in serious physical and mental health problems, including malnutrition, dehydration, worsening of health problems, contraction of illnesses, and more.
- Abandonment—Many nursing home residents depend on caretakers for most, if not all, of their daily tasks. When the staff members or caretakers who are in charge of their wellbeing leave them on their own, whether it’s in the nursing home, hospital, or a public place, they are considered victims of abandonment, which can be life threatening—especially for residents who require close monitoring and frequent medication dosages.