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The Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

On Behalf of | May 18, 2021 | Firm News

Elders are often particularly susceptible to nursing home abuse and neglect. With millions of senior citizens living in long-term care facilities, the issue is unfortunately widespread and leaves families wondering what they can do to protect their loved ones. At The Mark Casto Law Firm, our attorneys and staff represent victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. We fight for the right of victims and their families to seek compensation from negligent nursing homes. If you believe a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call our office at 706-450-7071 to speak with a Georgia nursing home abuse and neglect attorney at The Mark Casto Law Firm today.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Statistics

According to the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys, elder abuse is extremely common, particularly in nursing homes. Research estimates that 5 million elders are abused each year. In nursing homes, 36% of staff report having witnessed at least one incidence of abuse against a resident within the previous year. Many staff members even admitted to committing acts of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse.

Neglect is one form of nursing home abuse. Neglect often stems from the facilities being understaffed or otherwise under-resourced. Although complaints are common, it is estimated that most instances of abuse and neglect go unreported. Roughly one out of every 14 cases of abuse is reported. This under-reporting makes nursing home abuse and neglect one of the most prevalent and insidious problems facing the country.

What Is the Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Though these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, abuse and neglect have very different meanings.

Nursing Home Abuse

According to the Administration for Community Living, elder abuse is a knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or other person that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. This applies to nursing home staff, who are entrusted to provide care to vulnerable senior citizens. Forms of abuse can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Exploitation or financial abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect

Nursing Home Neglect

Neglect is a subset of abuse. While abuse may include intentional acts, like physical or sexual assault, neglect generally means a failure by a caretaker to provide for the basic needs of the adult. Because senior citizens are particularly vulnerable, many of whom have unique medical and emotional needs, nursing homes and their staff have a duty to ensure that they receive the care they need. When they fail to do so, it can be characterized as neglect. Some examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Failure to adhere to policies and procedures
  • Failure to provide medical treatment and prescriptions
  • Failure to respond to nursing home residents regarding their needs (medical, physical, dietary, emotional, etc.)
  • Failure to repair dangerous conditions on the premises, like slippery floors
  • Failure to provide adequate staffing
  • Failure to train or supervise employees to care appropriately for nursing home residents

How to Detect Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Unfortunately, nursing abuse and neglect can be challenging to detect and report. Residents of nursing homes often have limited ability to communicate with others outside of the facility, and family members and friends who visit occasionally but may not get to observe instances of abuse while they are there. Making the decision to entrust a loved one in the care of an assisted living facility or nursing home can be emotionally and financially difficult, which is why we expect that these facilities provide an extremely high quality of care. Even the top nursing homes receive complaints of abuse and neglect, though, so it is important to remain wary of potential symptoms of nursing home abuse when checking in on your loved one.

Changes in Mood, Confusion, and Irritability

No one knows your loved one better than you. If you notice a severe change in your family member’s mood, or if they appear confused and irritable, it may be a warning sign that they are not receiving proper care. While these can occasionally be a natural side effect of aging, if you are concerned about your elderly loved one’s sudden change in attitude or severe mood swings, consider looking further into the care that they are receiving to ensure that the facility and staff are following all proper guidelines.

Injuries, Bruising, and Bedsores

Understaffing often means that nursing home residents are left to fend for themselves, which can be a serious concern if they need special care. For example, many residents are bedridden, which means that they are at high risk of bedsores, or pressure ulcers if they do not change positions regularly. This often requires the assistance of a staff member to do safely, so without regular attention, bedridden patients may begin to develop sores on their legs, back, buttocks, underarms, or any other regions that are making extended contact with the bed.

Similarly, some residents are designated as fall risks, so procedures may require that they need the assistance of one or two staff members to remove them from bed. If a patient requiring the aid of two staff members falls because only one staff member was helping them, this may be characterized as neglect.

Unexplained bruising or cuts may be a sign of more serious abuse. If you believe your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, consider speaking with an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney at The Mark Casto Law Firm as soon as possible.

Poor Hygiene and Unsanitary Conditions

When you enter the facility, take note of any seemingly dangerous or unhygienic conditions in the lobby, shared areas, or your loved one’s bedroom. Even temporary unsanitary conditions can cause serious injuries and illnesses. Nursing homes must make every attempt to maintain proper hygiene and prevent and promptly treat injuries and illnesses.

Contact Our Experienced Team Today To Learn More About How To Receive Justice For Your Loved One

At The Mark Casto Law Firm, we believe in holding nursing homes accountable for the care they provide. When a family puts their trust in a nursing home facility to care for their vulnerable family member, they must adhere to an extremely high standard of care. If you suspect that your loved one is facing nursing abuse or neglect, please reach out to our office to tell us more about your case. We fight for victims’ legal rights after they have suffered injuries at the hands of a negligent nursing home. If you believe your loved one may have been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call our office at 706-450-7071 to speak with our legal team today.