Every year, some 2.1 million seniors are victims of elder abuse. With more
folks entering nursing homes and assisted living facilities, reports of
abuse are increasing rapidly. Experts say that this silent epidemic is
one of the largest legal challenges in the 21st century. After all of
the care and consideration that it takes to choose the right nursing home
for a loved one, abuse is emotional and highly traumatic for everyone.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in three nursing homes has
been cited for violations. Nationally, nursing homes have an average of
eight deficiencies each. The frequency of abuse and extent of neglect
is surprising for families and for safety advocates. The types of emotional
and physical abuse are equally shocking.

Common Types of Elder Abuse

  • Sexual assault
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial exploitation
  • Chemical restraint
  • Active or passive neglect

Abuse is often perpetrated by nursing home staff and caregivers. Nationally,
more than 1,000 nursing homes have hired workers who were previously cited
for abuse. Fellow nursing home residents are named in complaints about
20 percent of the time.

Signs of abuse can manifest themselves in many ways.
However, relatives are often afraid to report maltreatment due to embarrassment,
threats made by the abuser and a fear of retaliation.
abuse that goes unreported and allowed to continue can lead to injury and,
even worse, death.

Warning Signs

Visiting your elderly relatives is the best way to ensure their health
and well-being. Familiarizing yourself with these warning signs can help
you detect abuse early and protect your parents and grandparents from
criminals. The following are red flags associated with physical and emotional
abuse or neglect.

  • Bed sores
  • Bleeding
  • Broken Bones
  • Bruises
  • Cuts
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Isolation
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained pain

Nursing homes can conceal abuse by claiming that your loved one suffered
a fall when he or she was really injured by a staff member. If there are
reports of multiple falls, you should be concerned about a pattern of
A history of documented multiple falls could, at a minimum, indicate a
pattern of neglect.

Preventing Nursing Home Abuse

A reluctance to report safety incidents allows nursing homes to conceal
problems and abusers in every state. To protect your loved ones and other
nursing home residents, follow these steps.

  1. Visit your elderly relatives regularly, and take an active interest in
    their care.
  2. Ask to review care records. A reluctance to share this information is one
    warning sign that a nursing home is hiding something.
  3. Discuss your relative’s healthcare and activity needs with staff
    and family members.
  4. If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact an ombudsman. Then, make arrangements
    to have your relative moved to a safer facility.
  5. For further assistance, contact a personal injury attorney with experience
    litigating elder abuse
    and neglect cases.

Resources for Victims and Family Members

If you would like to report abuse or a violation that endangered the health
or safety of a nursing home resident, the
National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Careprovides a list of ombudsmen and citizen advocacy groups in all 50 states.

Other resources are available through the National Center on Elder Abuse,
the American Administration on Aging and our state’s adult protective
services division.

Finally, a personal injury attorney can have
state and federal regulators investigate the nursing home. If a long-term care corporation
is liable for perpetuating abuse, a lawyer can help you recover
damages to compensate your loved one
for this unnecessary pain and suffering.

John G. Mabrey and Carla Register Mabrey of The Mabrey Firm have more than
40 years of combined experience representing Georgia residents who have
been abused or neglected in nursing homes. If you suspect your loved one
has been a victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, call us at 404-841-4991
to schedule a free consultation with no obligation to you.

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