Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or other care facility is difficult enough. Whether it is a spouse, parent, or another close relative, you want them to have the most compassionate and skilled care possible.
Quality elder care in the U.S. may be stretched thin as a growing percentage of the population is now over the age of 65, and many aging adults require care. As many as 5 million older Americans experience abuse each year, and much of this takes place in nursing homes.
In South Carolina, there are 188 registered nursing homes, and 48 of those facilities have just a one or two-star rating from Medicaid. This means that they have been rated sub-par by health inspectors. Even if the facility that you choose seems reputable, there could be problems. Here are the four most common forms of nursing home abuse.
Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes
Likely the most easily detectable form of mistreatment of the elderly, physical abuse results from intentional actions by nursing home staff. This harm may result from an elderly patient being slapped, shaken, hit, kicked or forcefully grabbed by a staff member. Abuse can also occur when a patient is unnecessarily physically restrained.
Some of the signs of nursing home physical abuse include unexplained cuts, scratches, bruises, black eyes, and broken bones. A nursing home that either refuses to give a patient prescribed medication or administers medication that is not prescribed could also be guilty of physical abuse.
Nursing Home Emotional Abuse
Just as harmful as physical abuse but more difficult to detect is the emotional abuse that takes place in a nursing home. Some of the treatment that takes place in nursing homes can be psychologically harmful to loved ones, and this treatment can come in many forms. Patients may be called names, taunted, criticized, belittled, or simply ignored.
When a patient has experienced mental anguish, this can also lead to physical ailments. They may stop eating, lose sleep, or have other physical conditions worsen. Some common signs of emotional abuse in nursing home residents include a patient being withdrawn, depressed, or increasingly agitated.
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
It may seem unthinkable, but sexual abuse in nursing homes does occur. When elderly patients are isolated from loved ones, they can become the targets of sexual predators. A nursing home employee or caregiver who initiates unwanted or uninvited physical contact that is sexual in nature is committing sexual abuse.
Common types of sexual abuse in nursing homes include unwanted touching, sexual battery and assault, forced nudity, and rape. When this devastating activity is occurring, the patient may show signs of anxiety, depression, and fear around certain caregivers. They may also have physical signs that include difficulty walking or sitting, STDs and infections, bruising, and unexplained vaginal bleeding.
Financial Exploitation and Abuse
When a loved one enters a nursing home, you expect that caregivers will respect their privacy and adhere to the law. This doesn’t always happen. Some nursing home employees view these patients as a source of financial gain. Financial abuse occurs when a staff member steals items from a patient’s room or commits fraud by either taking the patient’s identity or gaining access to their financial resources.
Some of the common types of financial abuse include a caregiver’s theft of bank account or credit card funds, unwanted donations to charities, and even healthcare fraud. Loved ones should be suspicious if there have been unexpected withdrawals or unpaid bills, changes to wills or powers of attorney, or a disappearance of money or personal property.
Help for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina
It can be devastating to trust a facility to care for your loved one and then find out that they have violated that trust. If you believe that a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you have several remedies. You should not hesitate to contact the authorities if your loved one is in danger. You may also be able to make a claim for damages against a negligent facility.
At Peake & Fowler, we represent the rights of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect throughout South Carolina. Our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will protect your rights and pursue the full and fair compensation your family deserves. Contact us now at 803-788-4370 or online to schedule a free consultation.