As parents and grandparents grow older, it can be difficult to meet their unique and changing needs. Often, families rely on skilled facilities to care for elderly family members. Nursing homes have a special duty to keep the elderly safe and healthy, and family members trust that their loved ones will be protected and taken care of. Sometimes, however, that trust is violated through nursing home abuse or neglect.
A 2010 survey found that over half of nursing home staff members admitted to mistreating older patients within the year leading up to the study. The mistreatment included physical abuse, mental abuse, and neglect. For the estimated 1.4 million older adults living in nursing homes and their families, that can be a scary statistic.
What to Do If You Suspect Abuse
If your loved one lives in a nursing home and you suspect abuse or neglect, there are steps you should take immediately to end the mistreatment:
- Take photos. Visible signs of injury such as bruises, welts, cuts, burns, and evidence of restraints may be present. Hints at neglect can include bedsores and dirty living conditions.
- Report your suspicions to an administrator. Nursing home officials should be notified, so they can take steps to protect the abused person. Make sure to document your complaint by following up with written letter or an email.
- Inform the proper authorities. Concerned family members can contact the Illinois Adult Protective Services or the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. Law enforcement and a state’s long-term care ombudsman program also examine elder abuse cases.
- Consider contacting a lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney can preserve evidence and help take steps to stop the abuse and hold the abuser responsible.
Families do not have to prove that abuse is occurring. Once a complaint is made to authorities, an investigation will take place to assess the situation. Additionally, many states have laws that shield those who report the abuse from liability if no abuse is taking place.
Safety advocacy groups encourage family members to voice their concerns about elder abuse because suspicions are correct all too often. If your loved one has been mistreated at a nursing home, we may be able to help. Contact the legal team at Tapella Law to learn more at (217) 394-5885.