Nursing home abuse

As the baby boom generation grows older, more and more of us are faced with the difficult decision of placing a loved one in a nursing home. When we entrust the care of a loved one to a nursing home, we demand that they treat them with the same care, respect and attention we would give them at home. In addition, we demand that the nursing home provide nursing care and treatment we are not qualified to provide. 

Sadly, some nursing homes refuse to give our loved ones the care to which they are entitled. Many nursing homes are inadequately staffed to deal with the number of residents they take in, often as a result of corporate ownership and management policies with a focus on the balance sheet instead of quality resident care.

Neglect is just one form of abuse; others include verbal or physical abuse, stealing money or medications, and withholding food or water. Some nursing facilities fail to conduct proper background checks on personnel, and end up hiring unqualified persons to perform critical duties.

Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes

Abuse can occur in many ways. It can involve:

  • Actual physical force by a nursing home staff member or volunteer, including shoving, hitting and kicking
  • Hitting, biting or kicking from a fellow resident who is not properly supervised or restrained
  • Extreme punishments that lead to forced isolation, deprivation of food and water, use of physical restraints that lead to broken bones or chemical restraints that lead to overmedication
  • Sexual abuse, which includes inappropriate or unwanted touching, forced nudity, unwanted sexual advances, rape, sexual assault or sodomy

Signs of Physical and Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Older adults who live in nursing homes often have difficulty communicating with others — especially those who are suffering from dementia. Because your loved one may not be able to clearly communicate with you, it can be hard to determine whether suspicious injuries are a result of physical abuse or sexual assault or simply occur because older adults are more fragile and susceptible to injury.

Because it is hard to tell, it is important for you to look for signs of physical and sexual abuse when visiting your loved one. Signs of physical abuse in nursing homes include:

  • tender areas, cuts
  • open wounds
  • broken bones
  • unexplained bruising

Signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes include:

  • bruises or unexplained bleeding near genital areas
  • unexplained venereal diseases or genital infections 
  • torn or stained underclothing

Also pay close attention to your loved one's behavior — anxiety, depression, isolation and fear of the staff are signs that he or she might be a victim of abuse. When nursing home personnel refuse to allow you to see your loved one alone, it is a definite sign that neglect, abuse or other suspicious activity is occurring.

Nursing homes should provide a safe and caring environment for all residents, but inadequate background checks and insufficient supervision of employees, visitors and other residents can lead to physical or sexual abuse.

If you suspect nursing home abuse, contact us right away. Nursing homes and its personnel should be held accountable for their wrongdoing. We will fight for your loved one and work hard to prevent the problem from affecting even more families in the future.

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