When family members aren’t able to stay home to care for a loved one who is no longer able to care for themselves, it’s a scary time for everyone involved. The decision to leave an elderly loved one in a strange and new environment is never easy. Aside from being apart from our loved ones, there are many unknown factors, all of which are out of our hands.
When we drive away from a nursing home facility and leave our loved ones behind, we leave all our trust and faith in the comforting words the nursing home director and a smiling staff told us as we took the grand tour of the premises. “You don’t have to worry about anything. Your loved one will be looked after and protected as we would with our own family.”
However, news headlines often tell a different story; the real story about what lurks behind a nursing home’s fancy exterior facade. It’s a dark tale. One that makes anyone who has a loved one living in a nursing home feel like they’ve been punched in the gut.
Did you know that according to a recent study, 10% of adults aged 60 and older are the subjects of abuse by caretakers, family members, and even total strangers? Let’s go over what nursing home abuse is and we can help your loved one if they’ve sadly been a victim.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Any sort of abuse — including physical or emotional injuries, sexual assault, or financial exploitation — that happens to elderly people in long-term care facilities is referred to as nursing home abuse.
Families entrust their loved ones to nursing homes to look after, yet nursing homes may or may not provide the secure environments that are promised. In recent years, stories of elders being subjected to various types of nursing home abuse have captivated the media.
Many of these problems are caused by the nursing home’s employees, who were hired to give care. Issues arise from large senior care corporations that may give up on important personnel training and other good practices to make a profit at the expense of residents.
Five Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Depending on the situation, nursing home abuse might be divided into a few distinct categories that may overlap in certain instances. For example, a loved one might be subject to both emotional and physical abuse at the hands of a caretaker or another resident.
It is critical that you are informed as to the kind or types of nursing home abuse your loved one is enduring, and that you report it. You can prevent your loved one from further abuse and protect other nursing home patients from harm by reporting nursing home maltreatment.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are five common types of nursing home abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.
The top five types of nursing home abuse are:
Verbal or psychological abuse, often known as emotional maltreatment, is a form of aggressive verbal or mental abuse that targets residents. It’s the most prevalent sort of nursing home abuse. According to the World Health Organization, 31% of nursing home personnel have been emotionally abusive towards residents.
Emotional abuse may take various forms, including::
- Enforcing restrictions on a resident’s freedom of action.
- Insulting the resident’s appearance or intellect
- Isolation of the elderly from their families, friends, and other people living in the facility
- Making threats
Residents who are the victims of emotional elder abuse can experience persistent mental health issues, such as sadness, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Elder abuse occurs when a person takes money from an older person through fraud or manipulation.
Financial abuse includes the following situations:
- Misusing the power of attorney to alter a resident’s will
- Preventing the resident from withdrawing their own money
- Stealing a person’s cash, credit cards, or valuables
- Taking financial records or bank statements from a resident without their permission.
Residents of nursing homes can be subjected to significant anxiety as a result of financial abuse. They may lose income and assets, which they will need to pay for their long-term care.
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect happens when caregivers don’t give adequate medical treatment. As a result, the patient’s physical and emotional health deteriorates.
The difference between neglect and nursing home abuse is that abuse is an intentional act done to harm someone, whereas nursing home neglect is the result of carelessness or indifference on the part of the nursing home staff.
Nursing home neglect includes the following situations:
- Medication Errors
- Not Receiving Adequate Personal Hygiene
- Dehydration and Malnutrition
- Failing to quickly report injuries/illnesses to doctors/family
- Ignoring a resident’s complaints
- Leaving residents unattended for periods of time
Neglecting a nursing home resident may have devastating consequences.
When a resident is injured or harmed in any way, it is known as physical nursing home abuse. In a 2020 survey from the World Health Organization (WHO), over 9% of nursing home employees acknowledged having physically harassed patients.
Physical abuse in a nursing home may take the form of:
- Being punched or kicked
- Straps or ties might be used to restrict the movement of the resident.
- Pushing or shoving a resident.
Residents who have experienced physical violence may display the following symptoms: fractures, contusions, and bleeding. Any resident can be subjected to physical abuse, although persons with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease are more susceptible.
Physical abuse of elders may result in serious injuries or even death if it isn’t treated promptly. Fortunately, financial assistance may be available to cover medical expenses and emotional distress if you or a loved one was subjected to physical nursing home mistreatment.
When a person suffers any kind of unwelcome sexual contact, touching, or groping, this is known as sexual assault. Sexual elder abuse can result in bodily harm such as bruises, scratches, and sexually transmitted illnesses as well as psychological trauma.
Unfortunately, people who are disabled or unable to consent to sexual activity are frequently the victims of sexual abuse.
Recently in San Diego, California, KPBS launched a news story about how an accused sexual predator was allowed to continue to work inside nursing homes even as the state investigated him for violating women in his care. Soon after the stories aired, the man was arrested and charged. In March 2022, a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a nursing home resident.