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Nursing Home and Assisted Living Abuse: Fighting Back View Larger Image

Steve Wagner

Nursing home and assisted living facility residents frequently are at risk to experience abuse and neglect while under the supervision of their caretakers. Abuse and neglect in these places is so frequent, in fact, that national estimates say nearly one in three residents suffer at some point during the duration of their stay.

Multiple types of abuse arising from nursing home and assisted living facilities are categorized in these statistics, and all are estimations: 16% suffer physical abuse, 20% suffer from emotional/verbal abuse, 12% suffer from neglect, and 3% suffer from some type of sexual abuse. Others suffer from psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and abuse between residents.

In surveys conducted by the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect over the past several years, at least 50% of all nursing home staff admitted to abusing a resident in some form. In addition to the abuse residents are being subjected to, at least one in three facilities is cited every year for federal violations, putting residents at risk of serious injury, infection and even death.

Injury and Death

Over 900,000 people live in some type of assisted living setting, which means approximately 270,000 people are suffering from abuse each year. How many of these cases could be prevented?

The top contributors to death in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are fall injuries and bed sores. Because of a serious lack of funding and desperation for quality staff (did you know that 30% of nursing homes have at least one convicted felon on staff?), nursing homes often struggle to prevent injuries or neglect. Neglect may not even be intentional, but often the result of severe understaffing. At least 90% of U.S. nursing homes have staff deficiencies that don’t allow them to provide adequate care to their residents.

Around 1800 people die every year as a result of a nursing home or assisted living fall-related injury. Between 50-75% of all nursing home residents fall each year, twice the number of senior citizens living outside assisted living facilities.

In 2009, investigations showed as many as 240,000 assisted living residents suffered from bed sores, all of which are preventable with proper care. It only takes a matter of hours for a patient to develop a minor bed sore, but these sores, if not treated properly, can become serious and deadly very quickly. Given the proper care, assistance with turning and mobility, and treatment for minor wounds, bed sores could be nearly eliminated.

Again, due to understaffing and inadequate training of existing staff, nearly a quarter of a million people suffer every year from these painful, debilitating and deadly injuries.

Choosing a Nursing Home

If you are searching for a facility for your loved ones, there are several things you should keep in mind before settling on one:

  • Always visit the facility in person. Observe the staff and how they interact with the patients, check for cleanliness, ask about emergency protocol, etc.
  • Ask to view the home’s most recent health inspection ratings. If they are not government certified, you face additional risks with them not being held accountable for their actions. Government certified facilities must undergo regular inspections and meet the standards on at least 150 different protocols.
  • Interview any residents that may be willing to talk with you. Ask them about the staff, their interactions with the other residents, the type of care they receive, etc.
  • Look into the Five Star Quality Rating on any facility you are interested in. These ratings allow you to compare nursing homes in different areas, such as health ratings, consumer ratings, and overall performance of the homes.

Remember that price is not the only thing that matters when choosing a home for your elderly loved ones. It may often be tempting to opt for a facility that will cost a little less, but your loved one may end up paying the price for that later on.

Reporting a Crime

Estimates from the American Association for Justice say approximately 16% of actual abuse cases are reported every year. Why? In most cases, the residents don’t have anyone around to whom they can report the incident, but often, they are afraid of repercussions. It is incredibly important to keep in regular contact with your loved ones at these facilities. Visit them in person as often as you can, but when you can’t visit, check in by phone and ask them how they are doing. Dig a little deeper into their daily routines and ask questions about anything you find to be suspicious.

Make sure they know they are safe and that if they have been hurt in the past, you will never let it happen again. Once you have the details on any situation, call the authorities. Exposing crimes like these is the only way to help them stop!

After you have filed a police report, the next step you should take for the well-being of your loved one is to file a lawsuit against the abuser(s), whether that is the facility itself or an individual staff member.

The law offices of Wagner Reese can assist you in fighting back in assisted living abuse situations. We can help you shed light on the incident, raise awareness to protect future residents, and bring justice to the situation involving your loved one.

If you have a loved one that has been injured or died as a result of potential abuse or neglect at an assisted living facility or nursing home, our wrongful death lawyers understand the suffering you are dealing with. We want to help you fight back against the injustices that brought about the death of your loved one and we want to help you get the compensation you deserve to cover funeral costs, emotional trauma, and more.

Call us today at (888) 204-8440 for more information about how we can assist you through this difficult time.

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