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Dealing With Nursing Home Abuse of Senior Citizens

When you place a loved one in a nursing home, it is your hope that they are going to be cared for.  The nursing home is responsible for meeting their needs for food, shelter and medical care.  There has been a significant number of cases in recent years where nursing homes have not provided the high-level of care that is their obligation.  In some situations, the seniors have been physically abused.  Other cases involve the theft of money and valuables from seniors.

Common Signs of Elder Abuse

There are many types of elder abuse of seniors in nursing homes.  They can be verbally abused, physically abused and sexually abused.  They can be neglected to the point that it has a negative effect on their mental and physical health.

Seniors who rely on wheelchairs, crutches or walkers can be abused if these items are not made available.  They can then become captives in their rooms, subject to false imprisonment.  There have been instances that our office has been involved with where seniors valuables seem to develop feet and walk away on their own.  Usually another resident or staff member of the nursing home is involved in the theft of the senior’s possessions.

What to Look for Regarding Nursing Home Abuse

To start with, you should always have access to a loved one at a nursing home.  There is no reason why a staff member should prevent you from spending time with a loved one.

The following are signs of physical abuse: sudden weight loss, dehydration, bed sores, marks from restraints, broken bones and other injuries from falls as well as over- medication.  These are indications of sexual abuse: bleeding or bruises in the genital area or rectum, torn or bloodied garments or the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

Verbal abuse can involve seniors regressing.  This is when the senior enters an infant-like state, such as sucking their thumb or mumbling.  Seniors can show an excessive fear or apprehension around other people.  Visible depression or anger can also be related to verbal abuse.

What do you do if you believe a senior has been abused? The first thing you must do is try to obtain documentation or evidence of what actually happened.  If you find abuse has taken place, it is strongly suggested that you remove the individual from the facility.  You should thereafter notify the administrators of the facility and agencies regarding what transpired.  You should also hire an attorney and sue the facility.

There are several types of lawsuits that can be brought against nursing homes.  Lawsuits can be brought to deal with financial abuse, verbal abuse, false imprisonment, physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.  Nursing homes must provide reasonable care to their residents.  Nursing homes are held to a very high standard of care.  The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987 requires that nursing homes maintain a specific high level of care if they are receiving reimbursement from either Medicare or Medicaid.

Nursing Home Abuse Statute

The federal statute regulating nursing homes is called the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (NHRA).  This statute has specific regulation requiring all nursing facilities in the United States that receive either Medicaid or Medicare to maintain facilities that are safe, clean and well-managed for the nursing home residents.  Federal regulations require that all nursing homes residents have a right to be free from verbal, physical, sexual or mental abuse.  The rules stated in the NHRA are contained in a pamphlet called the “Residents’ Rights”.  An overview on the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reforms website is www.NCCNHR.org.  This Federal statute allows the recovery of “compensatory damages”.  These damages are calculated at 25% of the daily per-patient statutory rate of payment which has been established for the facility.

Elder Care Lawyers

We sue nursing homes.  Our office sues nursing homes that fail to provide the required high-level of care to their residents.  We will deal with issues involving nursing home abuse.  We also assist our clients in contested wills and estate proceedings as well as the drafting of wills and trusts. We assist our clients if they have special needs children with drafting a special needs trusts and supplementary needs trust. Should you, a friend or loved one have a need for an elder care attorney, call us at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561- 6645 or 718-350-2802.

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