What Does Elder Abuse Mean?
Elder abuse refers to the abuse of anyone over the age of 60. Elder abuse can include physical, financial, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse, as well as neglect. Elders are especially vulnerable to abuse by their caregivers, including family members and nursing home staff.
What is an Ombudsman?
Ombudsmen are representatives of government agencies. Under the Older Americans Act, every state must have a long-term care ombudsman who advocates for nursing home residents. Ombudsman may also mediate a dispute if a long-term resident has an issue with their nursing home and refer disputes they cannot resolve to the appropriate agency.
Can you Die from a Bedsore?
Yes. If a bedsore progresses to stage 3, the ulcer has reached the fatty tissue below the skin. At this point, the sore may become infected. By stage 4, the bedsore extends through the muscle and reaches the bone.
Stage 4 bedsores are especially prone to deadly infections.
Are Bedsores Gray?
Bedsores typically first appear as reddish blotches. As they progress, there may be some gray discoloration around their edges.
Why Do People Get Sick in Nursing Homes?
Nursing home staff should be adequately trained to prevent the spread of illness. Unfortunately, understaffing and neglect can lead to higher rates of preventable illness. For instance, families have sued nursing homes following the Covid-19 pandemic after nursing home staff allegedly did not follow proper quarantine guidelines and preventative measures such as mask-wearing.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is frequently detected by those closest to the elderly person. Friends, family, nursing home staff, financial representatives, doctors, and mandated reporters should seek out the appropriate authority as soon as they suspect elder abuse. Concerned parties should look for:
- Weight loss
- Signs of dehydration
- Indications of over- or under-medication
- Bruises, cuts, scrapes, burns, and other injuries
- Withdrawn, anxious mood
- Fear of caregivers
- Anxiety surrounding finances
- Unexpected changes to wills or financial accounts
Who is Most at Risk for Nursing Home Abuse?
According to the World Health Organization, risk factors for elder abuse include cognitive impairment (like Alzheimer’s and dementia), physical disabilities, poor health, poor mental health, and low income. Nursing home residents who rely on Medicaid may also face discrimination from nursing home staff.
How Common is Physical Abuse by Nursing Home Staff?
Physical abuse in nursing homes is troublingly common. Of the abuse reported by the elderly in nursing homes, 14% of the abuse was physical, according to an analysis conducted by the NCEA.
How Common is Abuse in Nursing Homes?
The World Health Organization reports that two out of three nursing home staff members admit that they have committed some type of abuse in the past year. This figure may not even reflect the true extent of the problem – the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that only one in 24 cases of elder abuse are reported.
Can a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help Me?
Yes, nursing home abuse lawyers can evaluate your case and tell you what size settlement you might be able to obtain. Nursing home abuse lawyers will also be familiar with the elder abuse laws in your state, as well as any relevant statutes of limitation.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse?
Medicare.gov states that elder abuse should be reported first to the nursing home supervisor, a social worker, a director of nursing, an administrator, or the elderly person’s doctor. Of course, you may not feel comfortable reporting directly to the nursing home. You may also report nursing home abuse to the State Survey Agency and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
Nursing homes must also provide the following agencies’ information on the facility’s website:
- State Licensure Office
- Protection and Advocacy Network
- Medicaid Fraud Control Unit
You may wish to report to these agencies as well.
Do Nursing Home Residents Have Rights?
Yes, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid provides information on nursing home resident rights, which are protected under Federal and state law:
- Respect: Residents have the right to choose their activities, decide when to get up and go to sleep, and when to eat.
- Participate in Nursing Home Activities
- Freedom from Discrimination: Nursing homes are not allowed to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or religion.
- Freedom from Abuse and Neglect: Suspected abuse or neglect must be reported to the appropriate authorities.
- No Restraints: Physical restraints, like ropes, as well as chemical restraints, are not allowed.
- Freedom to Make a Complaint: Nursing home staff must take complaints seriously and address them promptly.
- Proper Medical Care
- Have a Representative Notified If:
- The elderly person is involved in an accident
- Their physical or mental health declines
- They develop a life-threatening condition
- Their treatment plan needs to change or if they have medical complications.
- The nursing home transfers or discharges the resident.
- Get Information on Services and Fees: Residents should be notified in writing of any changes to services and fees.
- Manage Money: Elders have the right to manage their money or to appoint someone to manage it for them.
- Living Arrangements: Nursing home residents have the right to privacy and protection from theft. They also have the right to live with a spouse. Nursing homes must notify residents of any room or roommate changes and take residents’ preferences into account.
- Access to Social Services: This includes counseling and help contacting legal and financial professionals.
- Leaving the Nursing Home: Elders are allowed to schedule nights away if a doctor agrees that their health allows, although they should check with their insurance first to make sure overnights away from the nursing home will not result in a loss of coverage.
- Move Out of the Nursing Home: It is up to the resident if they would like to move somewhere else.
- Protection Against Unfair Transfer or Discharge: The nursing home can only discharge patients under specific circumstances, such as unpaid bills.
- Form or Participate in Resident Groups
- Involve Family and Friends: Family members are allowed to participate in an elder’s care.
Can I Report Nursing Home Abuse Anonymously?
Yes. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) requires information about nursing home patients to be kept private.
What Happens When a Nursing Home Resident Files a Complaint?
When a nursing home receives a complaint, a representative must investigate it promptly. Nursing homes must investigate and report all suspected elder abuse and any injuries of unknown origin within five working days to the proper authorities.