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Suspect Nursing Home Abuse? Take These Steps.
When families entrust their loved ones to a nursing home, it can be jarring to discover signs of abuse. If your family member has experienced neglect at the hands of staff, you’re not alone. Elder abuse is not as uncommon as you’d wish.
Abuse may present itself in a myriad of ways, ranging from neglecting to provide thorough care to physical abuse. Senior citizens that are experiencing dementia or other mental disabilities are the most at-risk group within a nursing home.
Unfortunately, elder abuse is underreported. Many loved ones aren’t aware of the proper avenues through which to report this misconduct and residents may be afraid of retaliatory attacks if they speak up. As a family member or a loved one, you can become an advocate for residents by recognizing the common signs of nursing home abuse.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If you notice a resident exhibiting any of the following signs, these can be indicators of abuse.
- infected bedsores
- unexplained injuries
- malnutrition or dehydration
- unclean linens and clothing
- unsanitary living conditions
- behavioral changes
- emotional outbursts
- complaints of treatment
- agitated or withdrawn disposition
The family of the resident generally knows them best and immediately picks up on sudden, unexplained changes. If your loved one is generally talkative, positive, and eager to visit and they’re suddenly angry, scared, and withdrawn — this is cause for concern.
Steps to Take When You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you’ve noticed concerning symptoms being exhibited by your loved one in a nursing home, there are steps to take to seek immediate help and to build a case against the facility.
1. Call 911 When Immediate Danger is Present
Residents who are in physical danger should be removed from the facility with haste, and 911 should be called. This is the fastest course of action to remove them from harm’s way and to provide immediate medical attention. The police will also fill out a report, thus beginning an investigation into the nursing home and staff.
2. Document the Evidence
Gathering evidence is fundamental to building a solid case against the facility and the staff members who are charged with caring for your loved one. Take photographs of any concerning and unexplained injuries. Write down dates, times, and behavioral changes you’ve noticed, as well as any medical records provided by the home.
3. Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Once you’ve gathered the necessary evidence, reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney to discuss potential next steps. The lawyer will be able to provide personalized advice for your case and walk you through the process of bringing charges against the facility.
Challenges When Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
Lodging a complaint with members of the staff at the nursing home may not alleviate the situation. Depending on which staff members are complicit in the abuse or neglect, your complaint may be promptly swept under the rug. Staying persistent when signs of abuse are present is integral to successfully uncovering misconduct and achieving justice.
Become a Nursing Home Advocate
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you can advocate for their welfare. Visit them frequently and immediately report any concerning changes in behavior, hygiene, or general disposition. When residents are subjected to an unclean living environment and exhibit signs of emotional or physical distress, these are warning signs of abuse within the residential living environment.
Document any signs of abuse, including the living environment and any injuries present on the resident. Take detailed notes on behavioral changes and complaints made by the resident. This will serve as evidence later when legal aid is sought and a case is built.
Advocacy is one of the best ways to protect your loved one, especially if they’re unable to lodge a complaint themselves. Seniors with dementia and mental and physical disabilities are significantly more susceptible to abuse, as they are often unable to report the crime — enabling the perpetrators to neglect without the worry of their actions being uncovered.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney
If you suspect abuse within your loved one’s nursing home, it’s important to document it when possible. This documentation will serve as crucial evidence later on. The experienced legal team at Solomon & Relihan can provide a free consultation to discuss the next steps in the process of taking legal action. Our team of experts can help navigate you through the complex legal system and will be an advocate for your family in the pursuit of justice.
Solomon & Relihan are based in Arizona and proudly represent Arizonans who are concerned about the well-being of their family members in nursing homes across the state, including the counties of Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai, Mohave, Yuma, Coconino, Cochise, Navajo, Apache, Gila, Santa Cruz, Graham, La Paz, and Greenlee.
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