When it comes to nursing home abuse, many different types of abuse or neglect can occur. One of the most common is physical abuse, which can include hitting or kicking an elderly person. Other forms of physical abuse include:
- Burning or scalding an elderly person with hot water or food.
- Using force against them.
- Depriving them of food or water.
- Depriving them of access to medical care when needed.
- Tricking residents into signing over power of attorney.
- Exploiting an elderly person’s generosity.
Physical neglect is another type of nursing home abuse that occurs when staff members fail to provide adequate nutrition for residents in their care, as well as failing to give proper medication dosages at appropriate times throughout each day.
Other forms include sexual assault and emotional/mental harm caused by verbal threats from staff members toward residents.
Causes and Risk Factors of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is a serious issue affecting thousands of individuals yearly. While it can happen anywhere, certain factors increase your risk for nursing home abuse. These include:
- Being over 65 years old
- Having a mental illness or cognitive impairment
- Having been a victim of abuse previously
If your loved one has any of these risk factors, and you are considering placing them in an assisted living facility or nursing home, it’s important to be aware of the signs of potential abuse so that you can take action if needed.
Other risk factors for abuse involve how the nursing home is run. For example, nurses who are underpaid and overworked are more prone to mistakes. If there aren’t enough workers, staff may struggle to keep track of everything. The nursing home also needs to have firm requirements for training and education, as well as accountability and documentation.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect nursing home abuse, there are many steps you can take to stop it.
First, report the suspected abuse to the nursing home’s administrator or director. If they do not take action, contact the Illinois Department on Aging and Adult Protective Services to file complaints. Next, contact law enforcement officials who will investigate your claim further.
Finally, if necessary, seek legal action against those responsible for your loved one’s injuries or death by filing suit against them in civil court. Contact a reputable Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer to seek justice for your loved one and compensation to pay for the additional care they need.
Preventing Nursing Home Abuse
While you cannot predict the future to see if the nursing home of your choice will abuse your loved one, you can take a few steps to reduce the risk.
1. Choose the right nursing home
Nursing homes are required to post their inspection reports on their websites. These reports can help determine whether a facility is safe for your loved one. Also, check reviews, and ask people you know if they have experience with certain facilities. Then, tour the facilities themselves to get a feel for their atmosphere and amenities. If you’re still unsure whether a facility is right for your loved one, it may be best to look elsewhere until you feel confident that their care needs are met by staff members who genuinely care about them.
2. Make a plan
Sit down with your loved one or, if they are unable, your family to discuss plans for health crises and critical care. If something happens, you’ll be prepared to tell the nursing home how to proceed. Consider things like what treatments your loved one may go through and whether or not to sign a Do Not Resuscitate. Also decide who will be power of attorney, and get the paperwork settled so staff can’t exploit your loved one.
3. Befriend and advocate for the staff
These people are in charge of your loved one’s care. Nursing homes employ nurses and nursing assistants, managerial staff, front-end staff, and more. Get to know them, and make sure their job is taking care of them in turn. You are in a position of power as a paying client to bring up any issues or suspicions that the nurses are afraid to— just don’t name names. By helping improve their workspace, you can help ensure better care for all residents.
4. Monitor care at all times
If your loved one has dementia or another condition requiring regular monitoring and assistance from staff members, ensure they get it when you’re not there— and even when you are! If something seems off about what’s happening with them during the day, speak up immediately to address any issues before they become bigger problems later down the road.