Nursing homes are supposed to offer quality care in a kind and compassionate environment. These facilities advertise themselves as the ideal places for residents to spend their golden years. Unfortunately, some facilities tarnish these years by subjecting their residents to abuse and neglect, slowly stripping away any semblance of respect or dignity.

You or your loved one does not deserve to spend their retirement in physical or emotional pain. For help getting the compensation and justice that you deserve, turn to the Fresno personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw . We take complaints of abuse very seriously and want to help individuals and their families hold negligent facilities and caregivers responsible for their actions.

For a free and confidential consultation about your situation, contact us today by calling us. There can be light at the end of the tunnel. Let us help you find it.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing homes are facilities that cater to the physical and emotional health and well-being of the elderly. These facilities house, feed, and cater to the needs of their residents while typically providing them with the medical care they need: care that family members may not be equipped to handle. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities have a duty to provide safe and proper care to their residents. When these facilities fail in that duty, they may be responsible for abuse or neglect.

Nursing home abuse happens when any type of harm is inflicted on an elderly resident. This harm can range from physical to emotional and can be systematic and calculated, or unintentional. Neglect is also lumped into the “abuse” category simply because a lack of care is in and of itself a form of abuse. This is especially true when vulnerable individuals rely on caregivers for basic necessities and vital medical care.

Nursing home abuse can be broken down into several different categories. The most common forms of abuse that can befall an elderly resident include:

  • Physical Abuse. Physical abuse is any action or force that causes physical harm to an elderly individual. Examples of physical abuse include hitting, kicking, slapping, biting, burning, scratching, or unnecessarily restraining a resident.
  • Psychological Abuse. Psychological or emotional abuse can be much harder to detect but the impacts can be just as severe as those of physical abuse. Emotional abuse happens when a caregiver inflicts psychological damage or distress on a resident. This can happen through the use of yelling, cursing, verbal threats, manipulation, belittling, humiliation tactics, ridiculing, or otherwise emotionally tearing down an individual. Caregivers may also inflict emotional abuse by socially isolating their victims.
  • Sexual Abuse. Sexual abuse is one of the most underreported forms of nursing home abuse. Sexual abuse amounts to any form of unwanted sexual contact between a resident and a caregiver or someone else. Physically and mentally challenged individuals are more likely to be sexually abused because they cannot easily refuse consent. Family members should note that, even if a resident has a cognitive condition that prevents them from clearly communicating, caregivers can still be held accountable for sexual abuse. Common examples of sexual abuse include rape, forced masturbation, inappropriate touching or fondling, taking sexual or pornographic images or videos of a resident, and forcing a resident to view pornographic materials.
  • Financial Abuse. Financial abuse happens when a caregiver takes advantage of an elderly or vulnerable resident for their own financial gain. This can happen through cons and schemes such as investment scams and fraudulent business opportunities. Financial abuse can also happen through flat-out theft or fraud. This can include stealing personal items from a resident, forging checks, taking a resident’s banking information, or stealing their personal information for use in identity theft.
  • Neglect. Even the absence of care can be considered a form of abuse. Neglect isn’t just a one-time forgetful moment on the part of staff or caregivers. Neglect is a systematic pattern of improper care. Neglect comes in three types: neglect of medical care, neglect of basic needs, and social neglect. Anytime a resident’s medical, basic, or social needs are being routinely ignored or passed over, it could be considered a case of neglect.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Different forms of abuse can manifest different signs and symptoms. While the signs of physical abuse may be dramatic and result in obvious bruises and signs of trauma, symptoms of emotional abuse may be more nuanced and subtle. Understanding that abuse can result in a wide variety of physical signs and emotional changes can be the key to catching abuse early.

Some of the most common warning signs that abuse may be taking place include:

  • Unexplained cuts, marks, or bruises
  • Frequent or unexplained falls or broken bones
  • Frequent illnesses or infections
  • Marks on the wrists or ankles from the use of restraints
  • More frequent or unexplained trips to the ER or outside medical facilities
  • The use of many different ERs or medical facilities
  • Bedsores
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Blood on a resident’s sheets or underwear
  • Unchanged or unwashed linens
  • Sudden change in eating habits
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Refusing to cooperate with certain caregivers
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Sudden changes in a resident’s financial situation
  • Missing possessions or valuables
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unchanged bandages
  • Malnourishment
  • Dehydration

What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect that nursing home abuse or neglect is taking place, talk to your loved one about your concerns. They may be able to help shed some light on their situation. Unfortunately, for family members whose loved ones have cognitive conditions or impairments, it can be challenging to get cooperation. For those suffering from some forms of abuse, such as sexual abuse, there may also be the hurdle of getting over the perceived stigma of the abuse. It can feel embarrassing or shameful to talk about the event, so a loved one may not come forward with abuse allegations. In other cases, elderly residents may be fearful of talking about their abuse because their abusers have threatened them with more should they fail to remain silent.

For these reasons and many more, friends and family need to speak up if they suspect nursing home abuse is taking place. Yet, many people don’t know where to turn for help. The first step may be filing a complaint with the nursing home itself. Complaints to a nursing home should be written out and delivered to management. Complaints should also include details, such as specific times, dates, incidents, and the names of caregivers involved in the incidents. A nursing home may investigate the claims and report back their findings, or in some cases, may sweep the complaint under the rug to avoid lawsuits or government fines. In any case, a formal complaint starts an important paper trail.

One valuable resource that many California families do not know about is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. An ombudsman representative can help families and elderly residents with a variety of issues, including reporting nursing home abuse. These individuals can help investigate abuse and neglect claims and also have a wealth of resources available to help support struggling residents. The Fresno area agency can be reached at (559) 600-4405 or through their website.

While many area residents will have heard of CPS or Child Protective Services, not many have heard of APS or Adult Protective Services. Those who are concerned about the care of an elderly resident may contact the APS and share their suspicions. For claims of abuse in certain types of facilities, people may also contact the California Department of Public Health or the California Department of Social Services.

If you believe that an elderly resident is in imminent danger of death or serious injury, contact local law enforcement for help.

Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse Claims

If a loved one has been the victim of abuse, they may be entitled to financial compensation. While this compensation can’t make up for the physical and mental anguish they have suffered at the hands of caregivers, it can help move them forward in a more positive direction for the future. While the value of a case can vary, in general, victims may be able to recover money for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • The value of assets or money stolen
  • The value of personal property destroyed
  • Disability that results from the abuse
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

The nursing home abuse statistics are shocking. The World Health Organization estimates that at least 1 in 6 people over the age of 60 will experience some form of abuse in a nursing home or long-term care facility setting. Even more disturbing, 2 in 3 nursing home staff members report that they have committed abuse against an elderly resident in the past year.

Sexual abuse is one of the most underreported forms of nursing home abuse. One World Health Organization report from 2000 found that there had been over 16,000 reports of sexual abuse in nursing homes. However, the organization admits most cases never get reported, and statistics are probably much higher. News reports also point to disturbing allegations of sexual abuse going reported but ultimately uninvestigated.

Financial abuse is also often overlooked as a form of abuse. Yet, financial abuse costs the elderly anywhere from $3 to $37 billion every year. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that elderly individuals over the age of 70 lost an average of almost $41,800 due to financial abuse.

Why Chose OnderLaw to Handle Your Nursing Home Abuse Case?

At OnderLaw , we know you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a Fresno nursing home abuse attorney. That’s why we think results speak for themselves. At OnderLaw , we have decades of experience holding negligent nursing homes and negligent caregivers responsible for their actions.

We also know what a painful and traumatic time this can before you and your family. That is why we pride ourselves on offering caring and compassionate support to our clients and their family members. Coming to grips with the fact that a loved one may have been abused is difficult. We know that, and we offer unwavering support.

If you or a loved one have experienced nursing home abuse, or you suspect abuse is taking place, contact the office of OnderLaw today. We can talk about your situation and how we may be able to help you and your family. For a free and confidential consultation, call us.

Contact an Experienced Fresno Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Nursing home abuse must never be tolerated. Abusive and neglectful facilities and caregivers must be held accountable for their actions. You and your family deserve justice and fair compensation for your physical and emotional pain.

Contact the experienced nursing home abuse team of OnderLaw today.