Legal Issues Relating to Elderly Abuse in Nursing Homes

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Placing parents in a nursing home is perhaps one of the most difficult choices a person can make. Nevertheless, it’s always important to understand the reasons behind it. Age is a natural process of life but with it comes health problems, physical “disabilities”, and cognitive deficits. At this stage, your parents require the best care and comfort to be provided to them. Being the primary caregiver can be overwhelming, especially if you are to consider the financial constraints that that most people are facing, personal obligations that must be attended to, health care needs, and other limitations.

All the same, nursing home placement is still a beneficial option that helps provide quality care to the elderly and in addition to this, it’s a system that will also provide your family with the much-needed support. It will also see that your parent receives the medical attention they need, considering the many health conditions that often come with old age. When considering nursing home placement for your elderly, you can opt between permanent and temporary residential care depending on the overall condition of the elderly individual. Nevertheless, even though most of the elderly patients are well taken care of in a nursing home, some are victims of abuse. In this article, we’ll be looking at the legal issues relating to elderly abuse in nursing homes.

1. Loopholes In Security

The nursing home facility you choose for your parent needs to be safe and secure from external and internal threats. The management needs to put in place measures of ensuring that the elderly are safe from accidents and injuries while in the facility. Let’s take a look at the various ways of preventing injuries in a nursing home.

  • Wheelchair ramps need to be put in place
  • Adding safety features and removing all the risk hazards
  • Careful storage of dangerous chemicals and medicines
  • Educating the staff on preventive strategies

Internal security matters do not stop there. Jeff Green, a Peoria nursing home abuse lawyer, says that many people do their best to place their senior loved ones in nursing homes, only to later discover that they are being physically, emotionally, and even sexually mistreated by the caregivers and staff in the home. This is a huge legal issue that may require one to consider even before choosing a nursing home for their elderly parents. Elderly abuse is one of the biggest internal security threats in nursing home facilities and any such facility needs to be responsible for ensuring that the patients in these homes are safe from any mistreatments.

2. Medical Malpractices

This happens when the health care providers, either doctors or nurses, neglect the patients or make medical errors when providing care. Medical malpractices are one of the few gray areas of the law because the claims are in most cases ineffective. Actually, most attorneys may be reluctant to take on a medical malpractice case. Nevertheless, it’s important to follow it up and ensure that the elderly are transferred to another facility if they are victims of medical malpractice.

3. Financial Exploitation

Given the frailty of elderly patients in nursing homes, scrupulous caregivers often take advantage of the psychological conditions to access their financial matters. Old age can cause memory lapses and this is one of the reasons why most patients are exposed to exploitation. There are cases of caregivers who obtained financial credentials from their patients, hacked into their bank accounts or applied for credit using the patient’s details.

4. Sexual Abuse

Consensual sex applies when both parties agree to commit the act without either party being coerced or forced into it. As hard to believe as it may sound, older women (in nursing homes) fall victim to sexual abuse too. In some nursing homes, patients may be subjected to sexual abuse because of their inability to express their wishes due to some health conditions. Patients with cognitive deficits and dementia often fall prey to sexual abuse because their psychological state of mind cannot allow them to make sound decisions. Unfortunately, in most cases and given the patient’s state of mind, there may not be tangible evidence for sexual abuse.

5. Neglect

The decision to involve a nursing home into taking care of the elderly is brought about by the fact that their needs will be taken care of by professionals. Neglect occurs when patients’ needs are ignored. This includes personal hygiene, provision of food and water, medical treatment, and clothing. Fortunately, it’s very easy to notice cases of neglect because the patients may show signs of malnutrition, dehydration, skin infections, and bedsores. If you notice any of these signs in your elderly, it’s best to ensure you take the necessary steps to see that your patient is transferred to a better facility and contact your attorney for assistance because neglect is often considered a legal issue.

6. Untimely Death

Most of the above issues may contribute to wrongful death. Neglect, sexual abuse, and medical malpractices have been cited as some of the contributing factors of wrongful death. When this happens, it’s important to have the right legal representation j in taking care of claim issues, wills, as well as establishing beneficiaries.

What To Do If You Suspect Elderly Abuse In Nursing Homes

If you suspect that your loved one or a friend is a victim of elderly abuse, the first thing you need to do is to contact the authorities as soon as possible. The first contact person should be the police or alternatively the adult protective services. The best thing about reporting elderly abuse is the fact that you don’t need to have proof of abuse in making the report. If elderly abuse crimes have been committed, paramedics and public healthcare providers will move your patient to a safe location or a different facility. This is followed by a thorough investigation from the adult protective services.

While contacting the police and the adult protective services will help to prompt an investigation, it’s also imperative to consult with an experienced attorney who is well versed in handling such cases. The attorney will help to ensure that the patients are protected and they get compensated for the abuse.

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Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media.