What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect a family member or other loved one living in a nursing facility may be a victim of nursing home abuse, emotions can run high. Suspecting abuse is not the same as knowing there is abuse going on. Feelings of helplessness, anger, and sadness may be present, but you will still need to know what to do and where to turn.
Types of Abuse
Elder abuse affects thousands of elderly people and their families every year. Types of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse – Unexplained broken bones, bruises, cuts, fear or anxiety around staff or residents, unapproved restraints, drooling, lethargy, hair loss. May be in conjunction with sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse – Resident may display nervousness or anxiety, fear, depression, confusion, say inappropriate comments, or act withdrawn
- Neglect – unexplained weight loss, bedsores, dirty clothing or unkempt experience, lack of general hygiene, unsupervised wandering, bruising or broken bones due to falling
- Isolation – You may not be permitted to visit in private; phone calls, mail, an visitors restricted; staff members speaking for resident rather than directly communicating with resident
What to Do
If you suspect abuse is going on with your family member, and you believe they are in imminent danger, move your loved one to safety and contact the police immediately. Have loved ones stay with the resident until he or she is able to be moved. Speak to the nursing supervisor or local ombudsman and make sure your suspicions are recorded. When visiting the nursing home, take witnesses with you, such as other family members, trusted friends, or perhaps even a minister.
Keep a Diary, Take Photographs, Find a New Nursing Home
You should also keep track of any signs of abuse yourself. Keep a diary to record events such as unchanged bandages or dressings, unchanged clothing or undergarments, and more. Photograph bruising and cuts and note the date if a dressing has not been changed. Other things to keep in the diary include the date, time, and people present during treatment or conversations. Obtain and write down the names of all nursing home personnel who are treating your loved one, as well as a description of what they look like. If there is a roommate, get the name, address, and phone number of his or her family since they may be important witnesses. You should also obtain your family member’s or loved one’s records.
If you have gone to the administrators or ombudsman and nothing has changed you should seek legal advice regarding how to investage or how to contact the state agency to investigate your allegations. You should also seek legal counsel.
If your loved one died in a nursing home one of our attorneys will advise you on whether or not you should request an autopsy.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused in a nursing home in the Phoenix, Arizona area, please contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Cullan & Cullan today for an initial consultation.