Placing our loved ones in a nursing home is an act of immense trust. We rely on the staff to handle their daily care and medical attention. We want our loved ones to continue and enjoy life, make friends, and make the most of their golden years. All too often in the United States, this trust is betrayed.

At an alarming rate of one in three adults, nursing home abuse has become a rampant disease within care facilities. Two in three staff members admitted to the WHO that they abused or neglected residents. From assisted living facilities, 85% reported at least one case.

Elder abuse has to end. Our elders have already dealt with the hands life dealt them; must they now suffer at the hands of those who should care for them?

The Tragic Realities Of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse can range from neglect to malicious intent. When intentional, elders face all forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, financial, and more. This abuse can lead to lifelong harm. In the worst cases, this abuse can lead to death. 

Some of the most tragic nursing home abuse cases are unintentional. Overworked, burnt out, or improperly trained staff cause harm and must face the consequences of their actions. While it only fits that they face these consequences, you must know how much it weighs on them. How awful they feel that something happened on their watch. They retrace their steps repeatedly, trying to figure out where they went wrong. And that doesn’t include the recovery their victim must face, the trauma from being neglected and potentially in pain.

Malicious abuse generally involves someone taking a job amongst the vulnerable to feel powerful. These are the hidden monsters in our society who enjoy being cruel to people who cannot fight back.

The Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Ideally, we could alleviate any suspicions when choosing a nursing home. But abuse can be subtle. Staying in contact with our loved ones and monitoring their care can help us catch any issues.

Some things to watch for include:

  • Bed sores and injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Dehydration
  • Emergency hospitalization
  • Emotional agitation
  • Falls causing injuries like broken bones
  • Frequent illness
  • Heavy medication or sedation without explanation and documentation
  • Infections, including sepsis
  • Injuries and wounds with no explanation
  • Isolation
  • Malnutrition
  • Rapid weight changes
  • Reluctance to speak around others
  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Unexplained, sudden death
  • Unhygienic conditions, soiled garments, etc.
  • Unreasonable restraints
  • Wandering, including out of the facility

Getting Your Loved Ones Help

If you have any reason to believe your loved one is a victim of abuse, please take action. You can contact law enforcement, a local personal injury lawyer, and the APS.

Adult Protective Services

APS is a federal agency responsible for protecting vulnerable adults and elders from criminal situations. They will take all reports seriously and conduct a full investigation. If they determine the situation is unlawful, they will take the nursing home to court and contact residents’ families so they can take further steps.

Local Law Enforcement

Getting the police involved can protect your loved one in the short term and get documentation and statements from various staff levels at the nursing home. This evidence will help with any investigations, criminal or civil. And if the abuse is the fault of particular staff members, the police can remove them from the premises.

Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

A personal injury lawyer will help you seek a civil lawsuit against the nursing home or staff member responsible. While criminal lawsuits like the APS can bring consequences for the perpetrators, you and your loved one are still entitled to compensation from a civil case. Compensation would include any damages, like medical bills, moving facilities, and funeral costs, if the abuse led to wrongful death.

A personal injury lawyer in Chicago will be familiar with state regulations and statutes, and they may have community resources to help you seek care for your injured or ill loved one.

Giving the case to a lawyer has several benefits. They will ensure all paperwork is filed correctly and all deadlines are met. They will navigate the court system and evidence-gathering stage, letting you know if they need anything. While they handle the legalities, you can focus on your loved one and their needs. A lawyer is also helpful in calculating a compensation package. This package will include any damages like medical bills, lawyer fees, and lost wages if you have to take off work to help your loved one and handle the case.

Many cases are settled outside of court, with the wrongdoers facing the consequences and your family receiving compensation. However, the case may end up going to court. Your lawyer will handle the case and advise you on what to do until it is over, such as not posting on social media and forwarding any calls from the opposition to your lawyer.

The Ongoing Battle

Nursing home abuse is a surprisingly well-known issue. Many organizations have come together to supply information and connect families with lawyers. It’s an ongoing battle to ensure abusers face the consequences and nursing homes take steps to mitigate issues. Ensuring that victims are heard in the legal sector is one of the many ways we can help effect change. If you have concerns about a loved one, don’t delay: get them help and add your voice to the advocacy battle. Help us help our elders by removing those in the nursing home system who would bring our loved ones harm. Help us advocate for better hiring practices, training protocol, and better regulation of our loved ones’ care.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be a welcome retreat from everyday life. They should be a haven helping our loved ones enjoy their final years. They should not be a place of fear and pain. Our loved ones should live their years in peace, enjoying the company of their peers and the staff. We can help ensure that happens.