Q And A About Elder Physical Abuse and Neglect
With advances in technology and health care, more and more people are living well into their eighth, ninth and even tenth decade. As a result of this trend, it is helpful to have information available should you believe an elderly loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse.
A: Elder abuse is a term referring to any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
A: In a nursing home setting, abuse can take many forms: physical, mental or emotional, and even financial. Neglect can also cause serious harm.
A: Physical abuse includes all types of physical actions that result in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment. Physical abuse does not have to leave visible marks or injuries in order to cause harm. It includes acts of violence like hitting, kicking, slapping, pinching or pushing, but it also includes acts like force-feeding, administering unnecessary types or amounts of medication, withholding needed sustenance or medication, or physical punishment of any kind. Sexual abuse is often physical, but it can also include mental or emotional abuse.
A: Mental and emotional abuse includes inflicting mental or emotional pain or anguish through verbal or nonverbal acts. Insults, threats, harassment, intimidation or humiliation are all types of mental or emotional abuse. Deliberately isolating an elderly person from others, prohibiting him or her from seeing loved ones, giving him or her the “silent treatment,” or deliberately failing to treat him or her with respect are also types of abuse that can cause harm.
A: Financial abuse includes improperly using or managing an elderly person’s assets or improperly incurring debts. Misusing or stealing money or possessions, forging checks or other financial documents, or coercing an older person into entering any financial or property-related transaction, like changing his or her will, are all types of financial abuse.
A: Neglect occurs when a caregiver refuses or forgets to fulfill his or her duties in caring for an elderly person. Neglect most often occurs when an elderly person does not get necessary food, water, medication, clean clothing, baths, medication or medical care.
A: Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed or have poorly or inadequately trained staff. These circumstances can compromise the care a resident receives. Additionally, some elderly residents have family members who do not visit regularly; this isolation makes it difficult to detect abuse.
A: Any sudden, suspicious or unexplained change in condition may be an indicator of abuse or neglect:
- Weight loss
- Unsanitary conditions
- Overmedicated state of mind
- Venereal disease, vaginal or anal bleeding, stained or bloody underwear
- Injuries or illnesses of any kind that do not make sense, that the injured person or his or her caregivers cannot explain, or that nobody seems to want to talk about or take seriously
- Injuries that look suspicious, like bruises that suggest the shape of fingers, straps or other items
- Worsening bedsores that are not promptly and aggressively treated
- Dehydration, malnutrition, symptoms of missing scheduled medication doses or poor personal hygiene
- Dangerous, unsafe or unclean living conditions, including unusual financial transactions, financial arrangements, or missing money or assets
- A sudden change of behavior from the elderly person, like withdrawal, sudden fear of certain people or dementia-related behaviors when no diagnosis of dementia has been made
- Refusal by caregivers to allow family members or friends to see the elderly person, ask them questions or be alone with them
A: If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect you may be entitled to recover:
- Economic damages, which include compensation for present and future medical expenses, any present and future wage loss, impairment of earning capacity, and any other expenses incurred as a result of the injury.
- Noneconomic damages, which include loss of quality of life, mental anguish, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
- Physical impairment and disfigurement, which may include compensation for scars or physical disability as a result of the injuries.
A: If you suspect your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 for emergency medical services.
In Oklahoma, you can report nursing home abuse or neglect to the Long Term Care Ombudsman, part of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. You can also make reports to the county health department responsible for the county or city where the nursing home is located. Reporting suspected abuse or neglect to nursing home management or supervisors is also important.
A: Nursing home neglect and abuse are serious problems. If someone you love has suffered as a result of abuse or neglect, attorney Ray Maples may be able to help you obtain full and just compensation from negligent parties. To talk to us, call our office toll free at 800-539-0652 . Your call is free and completely confidential.
If you have fallen victim to nursing home abuse or neglect and would like to discuss your Oklahoma nursing home abuse case, contact Ray Maples for a completely confidential and free case evaluation.