The Nursing Home Abuse Center reports that, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, roughly 95 percent of nursing home residents have either been neglected or witnessed the neglect of another elderly resident. Most of us will find this a shocking statistic. Of course, there is intentional neglect, as well as unintentional neglect. When neglect is intentional, the caretaker knows the senior needs certain things yet deliberately withholds those things. Unintentional neglect occurs when nursing home staff are overworked, and the facility is understaffed. Unfortunately, whether neglect is intentional or unintentional, the results are the same.
Seniors who are repeatedly neglected are much more likely to die sooner than those who are not. Further, consider the quality of life of a senior who is not given sufficient food or water, who is made to wear dirty clothing, who regularly goes unbathed or whose social interactions are deliberately limited. If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect, it is important that you take action. While nursing home neglect is not a criminal act like nursing home abuse, it is nonetheless unacceptable. The Finn Law Firm can help you determine what steps you need to take once nursing home neglect is found. We have been helping people just like you for thirty years and understand your situation.
The Finn Law Firm is located in Chicago but extends its practice to the surrounding cities including Chicago, Waukegan, Joliet, Geneva, Woodstock, Rockford, Sycamore, Yorkville, Morris, Kankakee, Ottawa, Springfield, Peoria, Edwardsville and Belleville. The firm also extends its assistance to victims of abuse outside the state of Illinois, co-counseling with local attorneys in most state and federal courts to help you move forward.
The primary difference between nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse is that nursing home abuse can be criminally prosecuted. That being said, nursing home neglect can have the same devastating effects on a senior as nursing home abuse. Elder neglect is categorized as a type of elder abuse, encompassing any mistreatment of an elderly adult by a person in a position of trust. While many forms of elder abuse involve direct harm to the senior, the harm brought by elder neglect is due to a failure to perform caretaking duties or overall substandard care. Elder neglect can occur in a nursing home when the staff fails to provide adequate care to the residents or can take the form of abandonment when a person responsible for the care of a senior deserts him or her.
The Nursing Home Abuse Center estimates that of all the complaints lodged regarding elder abuse, about 15.3 percent of those complaints are for neglect. When nursing homes across the United States were graded on the level of care, at least one in ten nursing homes had violations that were judged to have the potential to cause elderly residents harm, serious injury, or to place them at a higher risk of death. The National Center on Elder Abuse notes that there are ethical dilemmas associated with research involving elder abuse and neglect; namely, the research involves elderly persons who may have mental, physical, and social needs that make it difficult to collect the necessary information. The NCEA also found financial mistreatment of the elderly to be the most commonly reported form of abuse, followed by neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, the overall lack of reporting on elder abuse makes it difficult to fully trust any statistics related to the abuse.
There are, essentially, four types of nursing home neglect, all of which involve a caretaker’s failure to provide necessary care to a senior. Medical neglect occurs when nursing home staff fail to attend to the medical concerns of a resident. As an example, a resident who has diabetes may not receive his or her insulin on a regular basis, or a resident with high blood pressure may not receive blood pressure medication as directed by the physician. Lack of proper medical care can also result in issues related to mobility, infections, and bedsores. In fact, bedsores are a primary indicator of neglect, because their presence usually means the senior was left for hours on end in a bed or wheelchair without changing his or her position.
Social or emotional neglect occurs in a nursing home when staff subject residents to constant unkind treatment, fail to provide social outlets, make fun of the senior, or simply leave them alone for extended periods of time. Personal hygiene neglect can occur in a nursing home when the resident is not assisted with regular bathing or dental care, or when they are left in dirty clothing, or forced to sleep on dirty bedding. Other forms of nursing home neglect can include failure to provide a resident with adequate nutrition (or fail to assist the resident with eating when they cannot eat on their own), failure to provide the resident with plenty of water, and failure to provide the resident with a clean, safe, environment.
There are many different warning signs that should tell loved ones that either neglect is present, or there is, at least, cause for concern. Lack of personal hygiene is one of the warning signs. Many elderly persons need assistance with personal hygiene. If you visit your elderly loved one and he or she appears unkempt, is wearing dirty clothing, or it appears he or she has not had a bath in a while, then neglect is highly likely. Likewise, if the area your loved one lives in—as well as the communal areas—appears dirty, or you see signs of rodents or insects, there is likely a problem with lack of care for the senior’s environment.
Just as many elderly persons need assistance with personal hygiene, they may also need assistance with eating and drinking. If your loved one suddenly loses weight, you should look for signs of malnutrition, including paper-thin skin, hair loss, constantly being cold, constant fatigue, or unexplained irritability. Signs of dehydration, due to lack of fluids, can include very dry skin, dizziness, rapid breathing or rapid heartbeat, sunken eyes, confusion, fainting, unusual sleepiness, or total lack of energy.
Lack of mobility on the part of the senior should be another red flag for potential abuse. While seniors are less mobile than younger people, a good nursing home will have programs and policies which keep their residents as mobile as possible in order to help them retain their mobility and muscle mass. When residents are left sitting in a wheelchair or lying in bed for significant lengths of time, not only may they end up with bedsores, they will also end up less able to walk or get around on their own.
Finally, nursing home neglect can lead to certain psychological issues. The resident who is consistently neglected may exhibit fear of his or her caregivers or may withdraw entirely, even when friends and family visit. Constant neglect of a senior can also lead to resentment and anger, which may seem directed at loved ones, but actually stems from the neglect. Residents who are neglected may appear depressed and may even get to the point where they are suicidal. Nursing home neglect is insidious and can cause serious repercussions for elderly residents.
We often think of the elderly when we think of nursing homes and assisted living situations. However, according to assistedlivingfacilities.org, about eleven percent of those who reside in assisted living facilities are younger than 65. These adults may have a disability, whether physical or mental, which precludes them living on their own. While these younger residents may not have everything in common with the elderly, they do have one very important thing in common—they are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and other forms of nursing home abuse, whether due to a mental or physical challenge. The very person or entity who has been trusted to care for the resident could also be the person who commits abuse, but because of mental or physical challenges of the victims, going through the criminal justice system may simply not be an option. The Finn Law Firm can help you hold the perpetrator accountable through a civil lawsuit.
Nursing home neglect often stems from understaffing, negligent hiring practices, or inadequate training. Because of this, you can hold the nursing home responsible for the neglect of your loved one. The Finn Law Firm can help you through this difficult time. We believe you and your loved one deserve justice for the neglect, and we will help you obtain that justices. When you come to the Finn Law Firm, you will consult with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney who can offer sound guidance on how to respond to neglect and how to ensure your loved one’s health and legal rights are properly protected. Contact the Finn Law Firm today for a free consultation.