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Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
The senior population in Florida is one of the highest in the nation, and there are plenty of reasons why. Good weather, low taxes, and world-class health providers make it a mecca for senior citizens. However, even with excellent hospitals and doctors, Florida's long-term care rankings are among the worst in the nation, sitting at #43 for quality of life and quality of care. 20% of the residents of Deland, Florida are senior citizens, and most will require some form of care at some time.
The Deland area has 44 assisted living facilities, 13 nursing homes, 14 home care agencies, and three adult day care centers. With more baby boomers hitting their retirement age, the demand for care will increase. Unfortunately, some seniors will suffer some form of abuse from caregivers at some point. Shockingly, a survey by the World Health Organization revealed that 2 in 3 staff members admitted they had abused or neglected residents in their care.
Furthermore, the Office of Inspector General found that the overwhelming majority of nursing home abuse is not reported to police as required. Residents of long-term care facilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse or neglect because they often suffer from some sort of chronic disease that impacts their cognitive functioning ability or have limitations in their physical functioning ability. Suppose your loved one suffered at the hands of their caregiver. In that case, our Deland nursing home abuse attorneys can help to get your loved one the care they need and hold the abuser(s) accountable. Morgan and Morgan's elder abuse lawyers are available 24/7.
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What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse happens when caretakers cause harm to residents of long-term care facilities. The damage can be physical, emotional, or financial, and it can occur intentionally or unintentionally. Regardless, nursing home abuse should have consequences for the perpetrator. The effects of nursing home abuse can have a terrible impact on the victim. It can have adverse effects on their health and mental well-being and even cause wrongful death.
Nursing home abuse doesn't just occur because someone is a terrible person. Other factors such as understaffing, caregiver burnout, and lack of training can increase the chances of nursing home abuse taking place.
When you suspect your loved one is being abused, you have legal options. The first should be reporting the abuse to the local police authorities. Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration also has a Complaint Administration Unit that processes complaints against Florida's health care facilities. You can file a complaint about a licensed or unlicensed health care facility by calling 1-888-419-3456. Another option is to contact Adult Protective Services at 1-800-962-2873. Finally, contact Morgan and Morgan's nursing home abuse attorneys to ensure the abusers are held financially accountable.
We understand your top priority is making sure your loved one is safe. That's where we can help. A nursing home abuse lawsuit will get you the compensation you need for your loved one's medical care and other expenses that arise with nursing home abuse and injuries.
What Are the Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
When we think about "nursing home abuse," it's frequently associated with physical injuries. Still, nursing home abuse can come in many forms, including sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and abuse of their finances. To be able to protect your elderly loved one, it's essential to understand what type of abuse they might be suffering.
Physical abuse is defined as an injury or harm carried out with the intention of causing pain, suffering, or impairment to the victim. The elderly are more vulnerable to physical abuse because they are generally frail and thus unable to fight back. Physical abuse can be carried out in many ways, such as hitting, slapping, punching, pinching, kicking, shoving, biting, and rough handling. You may suspect your loved one is being abused if they have any sudden changes in their personality or behavior. When this happens, it's essential to look for physical signs as well, such as:
- Bruising, welts, and scarring anywhere on the body
- Unexplained sprains, dislocations, or broken bones
- Evidence of restraints being used on the wrists or ankles, such as rope marks
- Broken eyeglasses
- Newly missing or broken teeth
- Showing fear around specific caregivers
Psychological abuse is defined as using words and non-physical actions with the intent to hurt, frighten, weaken, or manipulate a person mentally and emotionally. Psychological abuse can be as harmful as physical abuse because it tears down the victim's will and influences their thoughts and actions. Psychological abuse can come in the form of yelling, threatening, embarrassing, insulting, swearing at, or demeaning the victim. It's tougher to spot the signs of psychological abuse because it leaves no apparent marks. However, there are some warning signs to look out for if you suspect your loved one is being abused, such as:
- New anxiety or depression
- Low self-esteem
- New aggressive or violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares, irritability, and agitation
- Unusual soothing behavior such as rocking or fingernail biting
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect occurs when caretakers refuse or fail to fulfill their obligations as a caretaker of their residents. Neglect can include actions like refusing or failing to provide food, clothing, supervision, shelter, medicine, and medical care. Although neglect is not violent, it can have dire consequences for the victim, including physical and emotional harm. Here are some common forms of nursing home neglect:
- Lack of bathing
- Lack of oral and dental care
- Not keeping residents hydrated
- Allowing bed sores to develop
- Not caring for bedsores
- Not helping residents use the toilet
- Not doing a range of motion exercises
- Ignoring bedridden patients
- Ignoring patients who ask for help
- Not changing residents after an episode of incontinence
- Failing to give residents medications when needed
- Improper care of health problems
- Not reporting a need for medical care to doctors or nurses
- Not providing medical devices such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs for residents with mobility problems
- Leaving residents alone for long periods of time
When it comes to nursing home neglect, families may wonder how this could happen. Nursing home neglect is always unacceptable. However, the problem is often because of inadequate staffing, improper training, and failure to screen employees when hiring.
Understaffing has always been a problem, and the Covid pandemic has only made it worse. Caretakers are often overwhelmed with the volume of work required and underpaid, leading to mistakes being made and residents being neglected. Because the need for caretakers is so high, nursing homes may decide to hire individuals who have no business being in charge of vulnerable patients such as former criminals or people with behavioral issues such as drug and alcohol abuse. Another issue that arises from understaffing is the lack of proper training. Nursing home employees may be thrust into situations they aren't prepared for and make mistakes with medications or fail to recognize signs of infection or illness.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Neglect?
Sadly, nursing home neglect is not uncommon. Here are some signs that could indicate your loved one is being neglected:
- Unexplained injuries
- Broken bones
- Weight loss
- Dirty clothes or bedding
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Behavioral changes
- Untreated medical conditions
- Hair loss
- Papery skin
It's horrible to worry that your loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse. We don't often think about the elderly being vulnerable to sexual abuse. Still, it does happen, and the perpetrators can be staff or even other residents. Sexual abuse is the most hidden and underacknowledged form of nursing home abuse partly because the victims often have cognitive or mobility issues that make it hard for them to communicate. Other residents can be a danger if they have a history of sexual misconduct and are left alone with these vulnerable individuals. Staff may even ignore reports of sexual abuse because they don't believe the accusations. The most important thing you can do when your loved one tells you they've been sexually assaulted is to believe them and look for telltale signs such as:
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Stained, torn, or bloody underwear
- Bruising around the genital area
- Redness, swelling, or skin tears around the genital area
- Bruising around the breasts
- Vaginal or anal bleeding
- Pelvic injury
- Panic attacks
- Pain around the genital area
- Emotional and social withdrawal
- New problems with walking or sitting
- Suicide attempts
It's not unheard of for nursing home residents to engage in consensual sex. However, suppose your loved one has a mental disorder, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or an inability to communicate. In that case, they cannot adequately consent to sexual activity. The perpetrator or staff that neglected oversight should be held accountable.
Financial abuse of nursing home residents occurs when caregivers or staff steals money or assets or coerces the resident into giving them access to their financial accounts or giving them power of attorney. Individuals with cognitive impairment are the most vulnerable, but it can happen to anyone. Some red flags to watch out for are:
- Unexplained withdrawals from the resident's bank account
- ATM withdrawals from a resident that doesn't have an ATM card
- Transfers of money to an unidentified bank account
- Insufficient fund notices
- Unpaid bills
- Closing of accounts regardless of penalties
- Wiring large sums of money
- Forgeries on legal documents
- Checks with memos of "gift" or "loan"
- Bank statements that go to an unidentified address
- Altered wills or trusts
- Missing property
The effects of financial abuse have far-reaching consequences for the victim. It may cause them to be unable to pay for medical care or even become homeless.
Who Can Be Held Accountable for Nursing Home Abuse in Deland, Florida?
When an individual enters a nursing home, there are typically contracts that are signed. Failure to deliver proper care and oversight can result in civil claims and criminal prosecutions. The nursing home and the abuser(s) can be held accountable. The nursing home has a legal duty to provide adequate staff, hire competent, credible staff, and provide a safe, clean, healthy environment for its residents. Nursing home staff members have a duty to treat residents with dignity and care. When nursing homes or nursing home employees fail in their duty, they can be held civilly and criminally liable for their actions or inactions.
How Can Deland Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Help?
Morgan and Morgan nursing home abuse lawyers can provide you with the guidance you need right now to make sure your loved one is safe and properly cared for in the future. A nursing home abuse lawsuit may enable your loved one to get the medical care they need to recover from their abuse as well as get them situated in a better environment.
Nursing home abuse is never justifiable. The elderly are some of society's most vulnerable and should be protected against neglect and abuse. A successful nursing home abuse settlement or lawsuit can recover damages for medical care, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and suffering damages to family in the case of death. In particularly egregious cases, punitive damages could be awarded. We are here to help. Contact us today for a free and confidential case review. We promise that if someone causes your loved one serious harm, we'll make them pay for it. Our services are free if we cannot recover compensation for your family.