Understanding what nursing home abuse is requires understanding state and federal laws regarding elder care. While different states and organizations may view nursing home abuse differently, most agree that it involves the physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse of an elder.
Elder abuse can also include neglect or financial exploitation. When nursing home abuse leads to wrongful death, penalties for any staff involved and the nursing home can be severe.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
There are a number of different types of nursing home abuse, each with signs that can help you recognize if your loved one is suffering at the hands of nursing home staff or other parties. These are some forms of abuse that are commonly cited on nursing home abuse claims:
According to New York State Adult Protective Services (APS), elder neglect can be passive or active.
Active neglect of an elder in a nursing home involves willfully neglecting them in some way, such as:
- Keeping food, medications, or water from them
- Neglecting to keep the resident clean
- Withholding important personal items, like their eyeglasses or dentures
- Failing to keep up on medical appointments or health care
Passive neglect involves neglecting the elder without meaning to—this could be due to reasons like inadequate training or knowledge or staff illness.
The New York APS defines physical abuse as the use of force that leads to injury, pain, or other impairments. This could include:
- Slapping or hitting the resident
- Cutting or burning an elder
- Leaving scarring, bruising, or other marks
- Shoving the elder
- Using unnecessary force or restraint
Signs of physical abuse may not always be readily apparent. Some things to watch for if your loved one is in a nursing home include:
- Unexplained injuries
- Desire to be removed from others
Mental and Emotional Abuse
If someone is threatening, intimidating, or humiliating your loved one, they may be suffering emotional abuse. Signs of emotional abuse can be harder to pinpoint. Watch for your loved one becoming withdrawn, unusually quiet or inactive, or experiencing sudden weight gain or weight loss.
If a nursing home staff member isolates your loved one without explanation, this could also be considered emotional abuse.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) defines the financial exploitation of an elder as illegally or improperly using the elder’s resources.
Sadly, financial abuse of elder Americans leads to more than $2.6 billion in losses every year in the United States, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
If nursing home abuse goes too far and is left unresolved, it can lead to the devastating and unexpected loss of your loved one.
This is known as wrongful death, and you may be able to file a claim against the nursing home, the caregivers responsible for your loved one, and any other involved parties to seek damages for your loss.
What to Do if Your Loved One Is Suffering Nursing Home Abuse
Elders who are being mistreated in a nursing home should not have to suffer. However, you may be unsure what to do next, since you cannot be certain what happens with your loved one while you are not around.
The following are steps you can take if you suspect your family member is experiencing nursing home abuse:
Request a Nursing Home Abuse Investigation
The New York APS is responsible for investigating all claims of nursing home abuse. This department will take the necessary steps to ensure a thorough investigation of your claim, which could include:
- Monitoring the resident
- Complying with the elder’s health care providers
- Overseeing money management to ensure finances are not being tampered with
- Appointing a representative payee, if necessary
- Petitioning for a legal guardian when needed
- Other steps as necessary to ensure the resident’s safety
Consider Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Injury Claim
If the investigation concludes that your loved one experienced abuse at the hands of caregivers in the nursing home, you may want to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Such a claim will allow you to seek damages that could pay for:
- Medical care, if your loved one was injured
- Finances that were stolen or mismanaged due to exploitation
- Funeral expenses or burial costs for a wrongful death
- Pain and suffering or emotional anguish at the unexpected loss of your loved one
Get Help Today for Nursing Home Abuse
At Morelli Law Firm, our attorneys understand what nursing home abuse is and the effects it can have on the victim and their family. If you believe your loved one experienced abuse, contact our firm at (212) 751-9800 today to begin discussing your case.
We have secured more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients, and we are ready to put our skills to work for you.