Indianapolis Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Imagine visiting your beloved grandmother in the nursing home where she currently lives. Your life has been incredibly busy, so it has been a couple of weeks since you have seen her, but because she is in one of the “best” nursing homes in your area, you are not particularly concerned. During your visit, your grandmother seems quieter than usual and more distant. You reach out to pat her on the arm and she flinches away from you. Finding this extremely worrisome, you decide to change her nightgown, thinking a clean, fresh gown will make her feel better, but as you help her change, you see bruises on her body. Horrified, you ask “Who did this to you?” but she simply shakes her head and turns away from you unable or unwilling to answer.
Hopefully, this is a scenario you will never have to experience, however for far too many nursing home residents and their families, something similar to this will happen. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, about 1,383,700 people reside in nursing homes in the U.S., with another 713,300 in residential care communities and 273,200 in adult day service centers. The majority of these people are elderly—aged 65 or older. Among those who are 65 or older, nearly 70 percent will develop some level of disability, and 35 percent will eventually enter a nursing home. Considering that in 2004—14 years ago—the average daily rate for a private room in a skilled nursing facility was $192 ($70,080 annually, or about $61,000 for a semi-private room), you would assume your loved one would be well-taken care of, but, unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Types of Abuse Commonly Seen in Nursing Homes
When talking about nursing home abuse, most people only think of physical abuse, like striking/hitting the resident, but there are many other types of common abuse in long-term care facilities including emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, manipulation and/or dignity and rights violations.
Physical abuse can include the use of physical restraints, unwanted physical contact, assault, over medication, force-feeding, or sexual touching of the resident. Sometimes medications are used as a form of “chemical restraint” where the resident is provided unnecessary or too much medication for the convenience of the facility staff.
Emotional abuse is also seen all-too-often in nursing homes and can include threats made to the residents, isolation of the residents, and verbal degradation in the form of sarcasm or insulting remarks. Residents may be manipulated to make them believe they will have food or hygiene help withheld if they “tell.” Sexual abuse can occur through physical or verbal means or invasion of the residents’ privacy and dignity. Videos or photographs taken of the resident and shared or posted to the internet or social media in some cases capture abusers exploiting a defenseless resident. Those subjected to emotional or sexual abuse can become depressed, anxious, confused and withdrawn.
Nursing home neglect can also take the form of failure to provide basic needs and assistance like water, food, medical treatment, or help with personal hygiene or mobility. Residents may also be financially exploited by ill-intended caregivers.
Unfortunately, the statistics which reflect abuse of elderly residents in nursing homes and other care facilities are both shocking and disheartening. One out of ten adults over the age of 65 will experience some form of abuse. Even worse, many experts in the field believe the overwhelming majority of abuse incidents go unreported. Additional statistics regarding nursing home abuse include:
- Almost a third of all nursing homes have residents have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and/or neglect.
- In 2005, a staggering 91.7 percent of all nursing homes were cited for at least one deficiency.
- Nursing home abuse is almost always committed by a person known to the elderly victim.
- Over-medication is a serious problem in nursing homes, with antipsychotic drugs being given to at least a third of all elderly patients in nursing homes.
- As many as 50 percents of all elderly patients in nursing homes have no close loved ones who will watch for signs of abuse or neglect.
- Although the recommended ratio of aides to patients in nursing homes is 1 to 3 during mealtimes and 1 to 6 during other times, the actual ratio is often closer to 1 to 30.
Common Signs of Neglect and/or Physical or Verbal Abuse
Below are some of the more common signs of neglect and/or physical or verbal abuse often experienced by the elderly who reside in nursing homes:
- Open wounds called bedsores or “pressure sores”;
- Falls (even unwitnessed falls, “gentle falls,” frequent falls, and falls that family is not notified about)
- Unusual or unexplained bruises or other marks on the skin;
- Chronic infections;
- Unusual depression;
- Significant weight loss or malnutrition;
- A reluctance to speak in front of nursing home staff;
- Unexplained wounds, cuts or welts in various healing stages;
- A room which appears unclean or unsanitary;
- A decline in the ability to ambulate, move, or use the toilet independently;
- Sudden behavioral changes, such as the fear of being touched or hugged;
- Broken bones or a fractured hip with or without explanation;
- Frequent illnesses;
- Sudden, abrupt or unexplained changes in behavior;
- The person seems sedated or heavily medicated;
- The elderly person does not seem to want to be around people, even loved ones,
- The person suddenly becomes more interested in touching or sexual behavior, or
- The person has recently become withdrawn or non-communicative.
Whether as a result of negligence or reckless disregard for the well-being of nursing home residents, nursing home abuse is a serious issue with serious consequences. Many instances of nursing home neglect and/or abuse either go unnoticed or are overlooked in the belief the deteriorating condition of an elderly loved one is due solely to the aging process. In some cases, there is an insidious progression from small failures to properly care for an elderly patient to the blatant disregard for basic human needs. If your loved one has been neglected or abused in a facility which assured you of their safety, a call to the experienced Cohen & Malad, LLP Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys can help you determine how to proceed.
Getting the Help You Need from Cohen & Malad, LLP
Cohen & Malad, LLP attorneys have years of experience helping family members whose loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect. We are compassionate and dedicated and have full knowledge of how difficult it is to entrust your loved one to another’s care. When that trust is betrayed, you may not know where to turn for help. We believe your loved one deserves the benefit of a comprehensive investigation into the history of the nursing home in question as well as to the care—or lack of care—provided to residents on a regular basis.
We are dedicated to crafting a compelling case on behalf of your loved one and are skilled at convincing a jury—should it come to that—to see what a breach of trust and duty has been committed by the nursing home staff. Cohen & Malad, LLP attorneys are devoted to obtaining justice for those who have suffered harm at the hands of another. We have the necessary knowledge of the laws governing Indiana nursing homes and will use this knowledge to your benefit. Call Cohen & Malad, LLP today at (317) 636-6481 for a compassionate, experienced consultation regarding medical malpractice and nursing home abuse.