Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse
Despite efforts to regulate the nursing home industry, elder abuse still occurs at an alarming rate. In fact, one congressional report stated that around 30 percent of nursing homes across the country were issued over 9,000 citations for violating state and federal regulations over the course of two years. Although we never want to imagine that our loved ones are being abused, it is critical to remain vigilant for signs of neglect or mistreatment and to hold those who perpetrate these offenses accountable for their actions, so if you are concerned that a relative is being abused in a nursing home and have already notified the proper authorities, please contact an experienced elder abuse attorney who can explain your legal options.
Signs of Physical Abuse
Elder abuse can take a variety of forms, including physical, verbal, mental, and emotional abuse. The term physical abuse does not just include physical violence, but actually covers a number of behaviors, so those with loved ones in nursing homes or other care facilities should keep any eye out for the following signs of physical abuse:
- Malnutrition or unexplained weight loss;
- Evidence of dehydration;
- Untreated bed sores;
- Bruises and welts that appear without explanation;
- Inadequate sanitation;
- Ankle and wrist sprains, dislocated joints, and fractures;
- A lack of access to prescription medications; and
- Marks indicating that a patient has been restrained using straps.
Recognizing Psychological and Verbal Abuse
Unfortunately, it is often much more difficult to discover when a person has been the victim of mental or emotional abuse because it shows fewer physical symptoms. However, the relatives of nursing home residents should still remain vigilant for evidence that a resident has become depressed or increasingly nervous, has lost weight, is having trouble sleeping, or is beginning to demonstrate dementia-like behavior, as these can all be signs that a resident is being threatened, mocked, or belittled by nursing home staff.
Nursing Home Bill of Rights
Under Florida law, nursing home residents have specific rights, which include the right to:
- Civil and religious liberties;
- Private communication in correspondence, visiting hours, or phone conversations;
- Have access to health, social, and legal services;
- Manage their own financial affairs;
- Be informed of their medical condition and proposed treatment;
- Refuse medication or treatment;
- Receive adequate and appropriate health care and support services;
- Privacy regarding personal needs and medical treatment;
- Be treated courteously and fairly by staff;
- Be free from mental and physical abuse, including involuntary seclusion;
- Choose a personal physician; and
- Retain and use personal clothing and possessions.
When these rights are violated, injured parties can file a lawsuit against the facility in court to collect compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Elder Abuse Attorney Today
Although both state and federal law require nursing homes to comply with specific rules regarding resident safety and health, these rules are often overlooked or violated, which can have devastating consequences for the physical and mental health of an elderly resident. If your loved one was abused while he or she was a resident in a nursing home facility, please contact Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 to speak with a compassionate and skilled Fort Lauderdale attorney about your case.