While many nursing home residents are well taken care of, nursing home abuse is a serious issue that is difficult to detect and occurs much more often than people like to think. As the number of senior citizens grows, more and more elders are opting to live in nursing homes. As unfortunate as it may be, the majority of nursing home abuse is done by the caregivers themselves. While there are anti-elder abuse laws in place, this issue continues to be prevalent today. Nursing home lawyers and abuse attorneys aim to help these victims with their personal injury claims to assist their healing process and make sure it will never happen again.
According to the World Health Organization, one in six adults — above the age of 60 — have experienced nursing home abuse. That figure alone is already extremely high, but it’s expected to rise as the global 60+ population moves towards its projected two-billion-mark by 2050. It’s clear that elder abuse isn’t going away anytime soon, and that it will take communal cooperation to eradicate the problem. That being said, you can still find justice for individual cases by educating yourself on the matter and partnering up with a competent Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer.
While there are anti-elder abuse laws in place, this issue continues to be prevalent today. Nursing home lawyers and abuse attorneys aim to help these victims with their personal injury claims to assist their healing process and make sure it will never happen again.
Types of Elder Abuse
When you hear about nursing home abuse, the first thing you think of is a caregiver physically attacking a patient. That being said, you should know that nursing home abuse is more of a spectrum with various forms that can vary in nature.
There are several different types of abuse that occurs within nursing homes, including: This type of abuse tends to be the most widespread and covers any intentional physical trauma to the patient through bodily contact.
Physical abuse can cover a broad array of acts including striking, burning, and cutting the patient. Some caregivers even use blunt objects such as canes to injure the patient.
Detecting this form of elder abuse is easier than proving a case of neglect or financial exploitation as it leaves substantial physical evidence. This covers all types of molestation against the patient. A sexually abused patient might be too ill to give consent, be shown inappropriate material against their wishes, be forced to undress or be forced to watch their caregivers conduct sex acts.
Statistics on Nursing Home Abuse
Statistics from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape show that the caregivers are the culprit in 80% of elder sexual abuse cases.
Their studies also show that women are six times more likely to be the victim of elder sexual abuse than men and that only a third of all cases are ever reported. Financial abuse is one of the most frequent types of non-physical abuse that takes place in nursing homes. This type of abuse takes advantage of a patient’s funds or exploits their spending in any way.
For example, an unclear fee tacked onto payments like a late bill fee, cashing a check without consent, or tricking the patient into signing legally binding documents. This can also include fake charities and false investment opportunities.
Only one out of every 25 cases of financial exploitation are reported — meaning current estimates are likely extremely low compared to the real number. When a caretaker neglects a patient, their inattentiveness causes preventable accidents to happen to the patient. A large number of serious senior citizen injuries are the result of falling, which can be often prevented if the patient’s caregiver is attentive enough.
If the caregiver fails to accomplish tasks that are essential to the survival and health of their elderly patient — such as starving or abandoning them — then they could be convicted of “criminal neglect of an elderly person.”
This is a Class 3 felony under the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act and is punishable by up to five years in prison. This can include intimidating the patient by yelling at them or even threatening them, intentionally humiliating them, ignoring or isolating the patient, and any other kind of ridicule.
Depriving the patient of social interaction with their friends or loved ones can also be categorized as emotional abuse.
While this doesn’t cause physical harm to the patient, it can lead to accelerated deterioration of their mental health and increase the risk of a suicide attempt. very type of abuse is harmful to the patient and should be looked out for. The best defense against any of these is to keep an eye out for the signs of abuse.
Detecting Signs of Abuse
Nursing home abuse is difficult to detect, so it is important to know the signs of possible abuse to look out for a loved one. Signs of possible physical abuse against the patient could appear as unexplained injuries or bruises on the patient or broken bones. If a patient is being neglected, their medication may not be given to them properly. Another sign is that their clothes or bed sheets are soiled and not cleaned, as well as any other type of unsanitary conditions inside their nursing home.
Dehydration is another sign of neglect. The signs of sexual abuse include bloody undergarments and clothing and bruises near the chest and genital areas.
The best way to detect abuse is constant vigilance and taking note of any of these signs if they occur. If you suspect that a loved one is being abused in any way, contact a nursing home lawyer to find out about your options regarding a personal injury claim.
Here are some common signs of abuse: Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores develop when nursing home patients remain in the same position for an extended period of time — whether sitting or lying down. The buttocks, shoulder blades, and the back of the head are all common sites for bedsores.
They are easily avoided by repositioning the patient every now and then, thus the occurrence of them suggests severe neglect on the part of the caregivers. If not properly treated, bedsores could lead to squamous cell carcinoma, which is the second most common type of skin cancer. Rectal bleeding — officially hematochezia — can be a clear indicator of sexual abuse. Female patients may also experience bleeding out of their vagina if their caregiver is sexually abusive. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer may also cause hematochezia.
In any case, getting the patient checked to determine the root cause of the bleeding is imperative so that proper treatment can be prescribed. Rectal bleeding — officially hematochezia — can be a clear indicator of sexual abuse. Female patients may also experience bleeding out of their vagina if their caregiver is sexually abusive. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer may also cause hematochezia.
Cases of financial exploitation are more common in nursing homes than you’d think. In minor cases, caregivers may exaggerate the cost of groceries and keep the change for themselves.
However, more significant incidences have seen caregivers trick patients into signing over the deed to their house. Social Security checks are also a common target for unethical caregivers looking to make some extra money. A Chicago elder abuse lawyer can help you look for some of these signs of abuse. If you notice suspicious bank withdrawals from the account of the patient then this may be indicative of financial exploitation. In some instances, the patient is aware of the exploitation but too intimidated to put an end to it.
Try asking about these withdrawals to gauge their response. If the patient seems aggravated and/or evasive when asked then they may be trying to hide the situation from you. If they simply provide no explanation then refuse to comment further, this should be another red flag that they may be a victim of financial exploitation.
Patients who have a bad odor or have teeth covered in tartar are likely being neglected by their caregivers. After all, bathing and oral hygiene are both within the scope of work of these nursing home caregivers.
Beyond body odor, you might also notice other complications due to poor hygiene such as gingivitis if the neglect for dental health goes on long enough. Burns or cuts on the body of the patient could suggest that they’re being physically abused by their caregiver. Abusive caregivers will often use blades or lighters to intimidate the patient into submission. Common targets include the thighs and back since these areas are easily concealed with clothing. Bruises on the genitals could be another indicator of caregiver-patient sexual abuse. If you notice such bruises then you should ask the caregiver and patient separately to see how both react.
The stress experienced during a traumatic event can cause various sleep problems. Flashbacks may make it difficult to fall asleep, and even then, the patient may wake up in the middle of the night due to bad dreams.
While it’s hard to tell if your loved one has been getting enough sleep if they are residing in a nursing home, you could keep a lookout for the signs of insomnia. Exhaustion, memory problems, lack of coordination, and poor attention skills are all symptoms of insomnia and may indicate trauma.
If you notice that the signature of the patient has a sudden change in its look then this could be a sign that their caregiver is forging it.
A forged signature on a letter may not seem like a big deal. However, if the caregiver has the ability to forge their signature then they might eventually try to monetize this skill by writing checks to themselves in their patient’s name.
Forgery is a Class 3 felony that could be punished with up to five years of imprisonment. The cap for the fine is set at $25,000, though the court prosecuting the defendant could order the payment of restitution — which holds no cap.
Loss of Appetite
A lack or even complete loss of appetite can be another indicator of maltreatment by the caregiver towards the patient. Various changes occur in the digestive tract whenever someone is anxious.
This defense mechanism is the reason why stress can cause someone to lose their appetite. If the patient has no history of a poor appetite yet suddenly refuses to eat then you should consider the possibility that it’s their body’s natural reaction to a traumatic event.
Looking at Past Incidents of Nursing Home Abuse
There have been many cases of nursing home abuse that have been brought to justice over the past two decades. Due to the fact that they’re all available in public record, it’s easy to look back on the settlements of the past.
Familiarizing yourself with these incidents that have already found resolution can help you build your own case and grasp the severity of these incidents. We’ll refrain from mentioning specific names to preserve the privacy of these elder abuse victims, but we will cover other details like their location, age, and gender alongside other information that is critical to the case.
Here are a few nursing home abuse cases that were either settled or received a verdict:
In a turn-of-the-century case, a Floridian nursing home resident who suffered from Alzheimer’s was severely neglected by the assigned caregiver. After a long period of dehydration and malnourishment, he was hospitalized due to bedsores that had become gangrenous. The jury awarded nearly three million dollars in compensatory damages. A further $17 million in punitive damages was also awarded for a total settlement of $20 million.
A patient in a Texas nursing home, male and 81 years of age, was assaulted by his assigned roommate in 2006. This particular nursing home roommate was involved in 30 prior cases of assault before the incident. In one of the largest nursing home abuse settlements ever recorded, a verdict of $160 million was awarded.
In the year 2008, an 84-year-old woman who was residing in an LA nursing home was given medication by a caregiver. She was allergic to the medication and passed away shortly after. Her family was awarded $5.5 million for the wrongful death of the patient.
A Cook County nursing home right here in Illinois was the subject of public criticism after multiple caregivers there abandoned a patient at her bed despite the fact that she was listed as a high-risk patient for falls. She inevitably fell and landed head-first on the floor. She succumbed to her head injuries a month later. A private settlement between the nursing home and her children was met for $475,000. As you can see, the severity of the injuries sustained and whether or not the incident proved fatal are not the only factors in these types of settlements. Your location, as well as the lawyers representing you, can be just as crucial to getting fair compensation.
Costa Ivone is Here to Help
If you notice signs of abuse, contact our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys. The nursing home lawyers at Costa Ivone, LLC help in personal injury claims and will help you understand all of the possible legal options for your individual case. Patients should not suffer as the result of a nursing home’s negligent hiring or inadequate training of their caregivers.
Costa Ivone, LLC nursing home abuse attorneys can help you get compensation for any damages as the result of neglect including: The cost to treat just one bedsore can be as high as $150,000, with the price going up by over $40,000 for each additional bedsore according to Medicare.
That means the price to treat one bedsore could actually be more expensive than the annual cost of a nursing home.
The money to cover that treatment shouldn’t come out of your pocket when you entrusted your loved one to a facility under the impression that the staff there would take good care of them. We can help you ensure that it’s the responsible party who pays for the medical bills. The scars of traumatic events can linger on for years after the initial injury — that holds true in both the literal and figurative sense.
Scars and burns on the face could be a permanent disfigurement to the patient, adding insult to injury after the nightmare they’ve already endured. They may also have walking impairments and mental trauma that will last for years after the case has been settled.
These burdens that have been placed upon the patient need to be accounted for when seeking compensation, and that’s exactly what our team will do. Whether the abuse is physical, emotional, or sexual in nature, the patient had to endure a significant amount of pain and suffering over a long period of time.
Seek Justice with a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
We believe that everyone has the right to lead a happy life, especially in their senior years after they’ve spent most of their days taking care of others.
If your loved one has suffered under a tormenting caregiver then they’re entitled to fair compensation. A Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer will dedicate themselves to helping the victim heal from their trauma and fight to ensure that the abuse will never occur again.
These senior patients will need time and care to heal from the pain and suffering they have endured under the supervision of their caretakers.
The elderly are vulnerable members of the community, and while the thought of elder abuse is disturbing, we need to keep addressing it in order to understand how to better detect and prevent it.
If a loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect in their nursing home, submit your contact information so our nursing home lawyers can review your case and speak with you about how to pursue legal action.