Whether it is financial exploitation or emotional harm, elder abuse can take many forms in a nursing home. According to the data from Nursing Home Abuse Justice, there are more than five million cases of abuse each year in the United States, which can be highly concerning for family members who have their parents residing at an assisted living facility.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience handling elder abuse cases. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help the concerned family members and other parties in Dallas, Texas, by ensuring the protection of the elderly and holding the nursing homes responsible for such criminal acts.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Since most elderly fail to speak up about what's going on in the nursing home, it can be challenging to determine whether they're the victims of elder abuse.
By knowing the different types of elder abuse and its warning signs, loved ones can take preventive measures to stop the abuse and hold the negligent nursing home accountable for the damages caused.
The following are the different types of nursing home abuse:
When nursing homes fail to carry out background checks before hiring nurses or do not provide adequate training to their staff, it can increase the risk of physical abuse.
Some examples of physical abuse include slapping, choking, restraining the elderly, administering the wrong drugs, and inflicting pain, among others.
Victims of physical abuse often feel ashamed, scared, or threatened, which is why they rarely come forward to report the incident. It's crucial for the family members to look out for the following signs so that they can take appropriate action:
Broken bones and fractures
Restraint markings on the elderly's body
Cuts, bruises, or sores
When the nursing home facility or its staff members act negligently by not giving the senior residents the care they need, it could lead to physical and emotional harm. Neglect refers to the failure to meet the elderly's basic needs.
Some examples of neglect include failure to provide food, lack of proper care towards handling the elderly, and failure to administer prescription medications.
The following are a couple of warning signs of neglect in nursing homes that family members should look out for:
Most people don't think about sexual abuse cases when they drop off their elderly parents at the nursing home, as only 30% of the victims report such incidents. What's even more startling is that 81% of the time, the abuser is the primary caregiver.
Sexual abuse may include sexual harassment, unwanted touching, sexual coercion, forced nudity, photography without consent, sexual assault, and other lewd acts.
Here are a few warning signs of sexual abuse a family member should look out for:
Bruising and bleeding around the genitals
Sexually transmitted diseases
Stained or torn clothing
Emotional abuse includes involuntary seclusion, harassment, yelling, threatening, intimidation, or manipulation. It is one of the most common types of problems and often goes unreported, as the victim has no physical markings or evidence of psychological harm.
Family members and friends can look out for the following signs of emotional/verbal abuse:
Changes in personality and behavior
Disruption in sleep patterns
Anxiety around people
Some nursing homes may financially exploit their elderly residents, forcing them to pay more than they need to for services. They may also overbill, forge checks, and use the elderly's credit card for their personal benefit.
In some cases, the person responsible for making financial decisions for the elderly may take advantage of the senior's health condition and financially exploit them.
It's essential to understand the warning signs of financial abuse so that family members can prevent it from happening. Here are a couple of things to look out for:
Added names on the elderly's bank account
New power of attorney
Unpaid bills despite adequate funds
How to Document Nursing Home Elder Abuse
Those who believe that their loved ones are victims of nursing home elder abuse should immediately start documenting the signs, as it will make it easier for them to report later on and also recover the damages.
It's best to write down the details of the first signs of abuse loved ones start to notice when visiting the elderly in the nursing home facility. How, when, and where are essential questions that can help document the warning signs.
Family members who do not visit the elderly at the nursing home regularly often fail to notice any changes or irregularities. Taking pictures of the impact of the abuse on the victim's body helps the loved ones keep track of the signs. They can use the photographs to compare and see whether the elderly's health is recovering or deteriorating. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help answer questions like What is the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse in Texas?
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse in Texas?
Here are a couple of ways families, friends, and staff members can report elder abuse at a nursing home:
Reach Out to Texas Health and Human Services for Criminal Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation
Those who suspect that their loved ones are experiencing elder abuse in nursing homes in Texas should call Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) at 800-458-9858 to talk about their concerns. The agents are available between 7 AM and 7 PM to help file an official report.
When the agent launches an official report, the HHS assigns an employee to the case who makes an unannounced visit to the nursing home or assisted living facility for investigation. They will record observations and also interview several people, including the staff, the elder abuse victim, and the person who made the report.
If someone suspects abuse, neglect, or exploitation (financial) at the nursing home facility that receives Medicaid funding, they must report it to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at (800) 252-8011.
Contact the Texas Abuse Hotline
Besides reporting elder abuse to HHS, there is another option for concerned family members and friends. They can call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at 800-252-5400 (Texas Abuse Hotline) or online through its website.
Let the Local Law Enforcement Agency Know
It's essential for family members and friends who suspect elder abuse of their loved ones to speak up and voice their concerns.
Physical or emotional harm can happen at nursing homes, and if the victim is in immediate danger, it's crucial to call 911 or the local law enforcement agency.
Report Elder Abuse to the Adult Protective Services
Elder abuse can happen outside of the health care facility. The nursing staff or certain family members may abuse the senior in their own home. In such situations, it's best to reach out to Adult Protective Services at (800) 252-5400.
Concerned Family Members Should Reach Out to Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys for Help!
Besides contacting Adult Protective Services and the other relevant government departments, concerned family members in Dallas, Texas, can also call to schedule a free consultation with experienced nursing home abuse lawyers.
The Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can guide the concerned family members on what they should do and whether they can pursue legal action to recover the damages incurred.