San Diego is a haven for the elderly with its beautiful scenery, the ocean at its doorstep, and a mild and comfortable climate. This city in the Golden State has become the perfect place for people to spend their golden years. As adults age, their medical needs change, and they may find themselves looking for help within the walls of a long-term care facility or nursing home.
Choosing where a loved one will live while getting the best emotional and medical care available is becoming increasingly more difficult and stressful for family members, and statistics show why. According to numbers from the World Health Organization, one in six people over the age of 60 has been the victim of abuse in a nursing home setting.
When it comes to physical abuse, specifically, reports from older adults and their proxies indicate that 14.1% of elders in an institutional setting suffer physical abuse, and unfortunately, there are many more cases that don’t get reported.
When your family member lives under the roof of one of these facilities, their care is out of your hands, and their well-being entirely depends on caregivers who may be improperly trained, inexperienced, unsupervised, or just plain abusive. How are family members supposed to cope?
9If you or a loved one is experiencing physical abuse in a nursing home setting in Southern California, turn to the experienced legal team at Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers. We have the staff and resources to support you and your family during this difficult time, while fully investigating your claims of physical abuse. Abusers must answer for their deeds, and you may be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s injuries and pain and suffering.
Contact Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers at (888) 233-5020 for a consultation on your case.
How Does Physical Abuse Start?
Physical abuse is defined by the Nursing Home Abuse Center as any type of physical harm or violence that leaves an elderly nursing home resident injured. A study from the World Health Organization found that 9.3 percent of nursing home staff members actually admitted that they had physically abused elderly nursing home residents. Those are frightening admissions.
What may be worse is that the U.S. Department of Justice reports that only 1 in 20 cases of physical abuse against the elderly is ever even reported to the authorities. Forms of physical abuse that a nursing home resident may experience include:
- Pushing or shoving
- Physically restraining
How does physical abuse in nursing homes start, and why does it go unreported? There are several factors that contribute to the problem. One problem that many nursing homes are currently facing is the issue of chronic understaffing. Facilities that are operating with an insufficient number of caregivers and staff to attend to residents’ needs can face huge shortfalls in care, including neglect and sometimes physical abuse.
Chronically overworked caregivers may become resentful toward their employers and residents. Their workload may make them stressed, anxious, and short-tempered, leading some caregivers to lash out physically towards the residents they are supposed to be caring for.
Poor nursing home management may also contribute to abuse cases in nursing homes. That’s because, in some instances, a for-profit nursing home company may choose to put profit above the needs of the elderly residents they are supposed to serve. Keeping facilities understaffed is one problem, however other problems that may also contribute to cases of abuse include not properly screening potential caregivers for the proper education, training, and background needed to care for elderly individuals.
Improper or neglectful screening can mean people with criminal backgrounds or who are inadequately trained are being put in charge of your cherished family member’s health and safety. The sad statistic is that according to a study first published in the Journal of American Medicine, seniors who are physically abused have a 300 percent greater risk of dying prematurely as compared to those who have never been abused.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control outline a few risk factors that may help identify those that are more prone to using physical abuse against the elderly:
- Caregivers who abuse drugs or alcohol
- Have a criminal history
- Have a current diagnosis of mental illness
- Suffer high levels of hostility
- Individuals with poor or inadequate coping skills
- Exposure to abuse as a child
- Inadequate training or preparation for caregiving responsibilities
How to Help Spot Physical Abuse
Some of the most obvious signs of physical abuse are the marks and injuries left behind by the abuser. It is important to take stock of your family member’s physical health before they enter a nursing home facility and closely monitor it while they are a resident. Significant changes or unexplained injuries or “accidents” may be signs that abuse is taking place.
Here are some of the physical warning signs to be aware of:
- Broken bones
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, or marks
- Dislocated joints
- Repeated falls
Physical marks aren’t the only sign of abuse, especially if a caregiver keeps the injuries well hidden. It is also important to keep track of a loved one’s emotional health. Other signs that a loved one could be being physically abused include failure to fully explain how an injury happened, a strained relationship or unwillingness to cooperate with certain caregivers, and withdrawal from social activities or depression.
Here is a list of emotional warning signs to take note of:
- Withdrawal from favorite activities
- Withdrawal from family or friends
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Lack of eye contact
- Refusing to cooperate with certain staff or caregivers
You know your loved one the best, if they are acting in a manner that seems out of character for their personality or has nothing to do with a current medical condition, take a closer look at what could be causing that type of change. Elderly residents in nursing home settings are reliant on staff and caregivers for everything, from food and water to their medication and daily needs. They may be reluctant to report physical abuse for fear of retaliation. If something just doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts about your loved one and ask for help.
Another warning sign of physical abuse to be aware of is how your loved ones’ injuries heal. If an elderly individual’s wounds do not heal properly over time, or injuries continue to appear, they may be suffering some form of physical abuse. A caregiver who is routinely physically abusing an elderly individual may delay in getting that person proper medical care.
Impact of Physical Abuse on Nursing Home Residents
We have already mentioned that elderly nursing home residents who suffer from physical abuse are at a 300 percent greater risk of dying prematurely as compared to those who had never been abused. Not only can the physical abuse itself put an elderly family member’s life at risk, but it can also leave unbearable mental scars and cause emotional trauma that can be difficult to overcome. In some cases, the toll of physical abuse can lead some individuals to contemplate or attempt suicide.
The physical damage that abuse can cause may lead to more severe medical complications for those with preexisting medical conditions. Not only is this terrible for a person’s health and safety, but it can also cause financial hardship and stress because of the additional medical bills or costs associated with treating the extra wounds and injuries. An abuser is not only harming the nursing home resident physically, but they could also be putting an extra financial burden on their shoulders as well.
The abuse, and the medicals bills, can all severely impact an elderly individual’s emotional well-being as well. The rate of depression for seniors who are suffering from abuse is understandably higher than for those who have never been abused. This can lead to personality changes, withdrawal, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and a significant loss of enjoyment of life, family, and friends.
No nursing home resident should be subjected to this type of blatant mistreatment. Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers makes fighting for the rights of nursing home residents a priority. We help families recover the compensation they deserve and hold negligent caregivers and nursing home facilities accountable for their deeds.
How a Lawyer with Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers Can Help Your Family
Your main goal is the safety and security of your loved ones. At Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers, that is our main goal as well. We want to make sure that after enduring a traumatic event like physical abuse, you and your family are treated with the compassion and respect you deserve. Our nursing home abuse attorneys have the experience and resources to investigate claims of abuse, gather crucial evidence, and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
You may be entitled to compensation and damages in the form of medical expenses and emotional pain and suffering. Contacting an attorney you can put your trust in is the first step in the right direction.
At Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers, we believe that physical abuse against the most vulnerable section of our population should never be tolerated or ignored. If you or a loved one have been a victim of physical abuse in a nursing home, or suspect abuse is taking place, give our office a call at (888) 233-5020 for a consultation of your case.