It’s always a difficult decision to place a loved one in someone else’s care. Nursing homes are supposed to be licensed and trusted facilities that will provide comfort, services, and medical attention to their residents. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for facility owners and nursing home staff to take advantage of the most vulnerable of their residents.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can be tragic and can result in lasting consequences for victims and their families. Statistically, one in three U.S. nursing homes has had reports of abuse or neglect from residents. If you are facing these heartbreaking circumstances, the caring and compassionate Virginia nursing home abuse attorneys at Schilling & Esposito are ready to speak with you about your rights and help you determine the best course of action to help keep your loved one safe and free of harm.

The Frequency of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

The population of elderly adults in the U.S. continues to get distinctly older. According to the latest Census figures, the Baby Boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and this is going to continue for many years. By 2060, the number of people age 65 and older in the U.S. is expected to double.

These figures present a unique challenge, one of which is a demand for adequate health and senior care. The number of adults living with Alzheimer’s disease has skyrocketed as has the need for nursing and assisted living facilities for millions of Americans.

There are several glaring issues related to nursing home care. The first is that many facilities are poorly staffed or grossly understaffed. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, roughly 91% of nursing homes have problems related to adequate staffing. Second, elder abuse is often underreported. Either regulators don’t catch problems that they should, or signs of elder abuse are mistaken for something else.

Families should never feel guilty about deciding to use these facilities but should be armed with the facts before making a choice about which facility is best for their elderly family members. There are many nursing homes that have your loved one’s best interest in mind, and that follow strict guidelines for care. It’s the others that you should be wary of while understanding your rights in the wake of nursing home abuse or neglect.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are licensed facilities that must meet federal and state requirements. When they fail to do this, elder abuse can take the following forms:

  • Physical Abuse. This refers to non-accidental force used against a nursing home resident that results in physical and emotional pain and injury. Examples include slapping, hitting, punching, kicking, shaking, restraining, and burning.

  • Emotional Abuse. It is particularly abusive when a residence must endure yelling, humiliation, and intimidation at the hands of a so-called professional.

  • Sexual Abuse. One of the most injurious forms of elder abuse is sexual in nature. A nursing home employee may touch a resident inappropriately or commit other forms of sexual assault such as rape.

  • Financial Abuse. When your loved one either trusts a caregiver or is otherwise taken advantage of, they can lose financial assets through access to credit cards and bank accounts.

  • Medication Injuries. Medication mistakes are the cause of thousands of preventable deaths in the U.S. each year. An older adult cannot always advocate for their needs. Being given the wrong medication, wrong dosage, no medication, or an unprescribed drug to “calm” them could be deadly.

  • Fall Injuries. One in three older adults suffers a fall each year, and these can lead to more severe medical issues. Nursing homes are supposed to have safeguards in place to prevent these from occurring, so frequent falls are a warning sign of possible neglect.

  • Bowel & Bladder Injuries. When a patient is neglected, they are more susceptible to serious infections. Not eating healthy meals, not being provided with proper hydration, infrequent adult diaper changes, and lack of hygiene are all factors that can lead to severe and even fatal infections.

  • Wandering Off/Elopement. Some older adults may not understand their limitations or circumstances. This is particularly the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is a factor. A lack of appropriate supervision in a nursing home could allow a loved one to wander off and become seriously hurt.

  • Medical Negligence. You trust a nursing home to provide timely and appropriate medical care to your loved one. It is abuse and neglect if they fail to deliver this treatment, delay it, give the wrong treatment, or don’t follow-up as necessary.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be able to confirm your suspicions by observing several common signs. These include:

  • Unexplained injuries such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones

  • Bruises or marks on the wrists, which could indicate unauthorized use of restraints

  • Weight loss

  • Dehydration

  • Pressure sores or bedsores

  • Withdrawal or isolation

  • Other personality changes

  • Undermedication or overmedication

  • Lack of personal hygiene

  • Torn or dirty undergarments

These are all red flags that may indicate that abuse or neglect is taking place inside a care facility. If there are physical signs or symptoms, document these with photographs, and seek medical attention for your loved one.

Contact a Virginia Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

There are rules and protocols in place for nursing homes, but these may not prevent facilities or their employees from neglecting to provide the proper care to your loved one. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, you have rights.

If you are concerned about the health and safety of your loved one, remove them from the facility immediately. Once they are settled, you should take immediate steps to protect your legal rights. At Schilling & Esposito, our trustworthy Virginia nursing home abuse attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case and outline your options to collect the compensation you deserve.

We have successfully handled cases involving permanent injury, catastrophic injury, and even wrongful death resulting from nursing home negligence.

To schedule a free consultation with our Virginia Nursing home abuse lawyer, please call us at (888) 484-4878 or reach out to us online. We serve clients throughout the Richmond and Central Virginia area.