An interview with Alan Cassels on multiple drug use in the elderly
For many Americans, a nursing home is the final place they call home. Sadly, they may not be safe in these facilities that are supposed to lovingly care for their needs when they can no longer fully take care of themselves. Residents can face the following forms of abuse in nursing homes: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial abuse.
Contrary to popular belief, nursing home residents can be abused by people other than their caregivers. Nursing home abuse can also be committed by administrative staff, other nursing home residents, and visitors. In fact, nursing home abuse cases often involve residents with cognitive impairment, such as dementia, as the abuser. If you or a loved one live in a nursing home, being vigilant and understanding the different types of abuse can help you spot them and take action if they happen.
Physical abuse involves inducing pain, injury, or impairment to a resident. Common types of physical abuse in nursing homes include:
If left unchecked, physical abuse may lead to severe and even life threatening injuries. Staff may attempt to cover up physical abuse by claiming injuries are from normal falls or by covering injuries with clothing. Physical abuse can also happen between residents, in which case, staff should take every measure to stop the abuse and should notify family members.
Just as in the general population, nursing home sexual abuse includes any type of sexual contact wihtout consent. Nonconsenual sexual abuse may include:
Importantly, sexual abuse also includes sexual contact with any resident who is unable to give consent. Sexual abuse is the least reported type of nursing home abuse, but the reporting may not accurately reflect the amount of sexual abuse that occurs.
When a nursing home resident is neglected, they are withheld their basic human needs and rights. Neglect can include withholding food, water, medication, shelter, or hygiene. Some ways neglect can manifest include not checking on residents, not changing soiled clothes, not cleaning rooms, not listening to residents’ concerns, and not reporting injuries.
Unlike many of the other types of abuse, neglect may be unintentional; regardless, it is still abuse. When nursing home residents lack a voice or an advocate, it becomes easy for staff to become careless, lazy, and indifferent toward their residents’ needs.
In many ways, abandonment takes neglect a step further, and happens when caregivers completely desert and refrain from caring for a nursing home resident. Although more severe and seemingly unfathomable, this type of abuse does happen. The longer a resident is neglected, the easier it becomes to slip into abandonment.
Psychological and emotional abuse in nursing homes may be intentional or unintentional; it involves words or actions that can leave residents feeling scared, belittled, and distressed. There are many ways this type of abuse can manifest, including:
This type of abuse may be subtle; residents may not even realize they are experiencing emotional or psychological abuse. Nonetheless, it is extremely damaging and can make it difficult for residents to find joy in their lives.
Financial abuse can include stealing or using residents’ financial information improperly. It often involves premeditation as the abuser may work to gain trust over time, only to take advantage of a resident’s financial information. Financial abuse might look like:
When a resident falls victim to financial abuse, it can have devastating consequences and even deplete the very funds that allow the resident to stay at the nursing home.
Elder abuse in nursing homes is deplorable and devastatingly common. The signs can be difficult to spot, particularly for residents with cognitive impairment. For example, Alzheimer’s abuse in nursing homes is likely more common than abuse of residents who have increased awareness. If you’re seeing signs of nursing home abuse, consider talking to a nursing home abuse lawyer. You can learn more about how to report nursing home abuse and the best ways to support your loved one or stand up for yourself.
A petition for national efforts to confront the abuse and financial exploitation of our elderly and vulnerable citizens and for real change to end the abuse and address problems in adult guardianships.
Allegations of physical and sexual abuse of nursing home residents frequently are not reported promptly. Local law enforcement officials indicated that they are seldom summoned to nursing homes to immediately investigate allegations of physical or sexual abuse.
Images from a hidden video camera helped the son of a 78-year-old woman convince authorities that his mother was being brutally and repeatedly assaulted by nursing home staff.
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