If you suspect your loved one is being mistreated at any state institution, private care home, or designated nursing facility, the time to act is now. Report your suspicions to the authorities, and give the compassionate Long Beach personal injury attorneys at The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV a call. Our number is (888) 454-5569, and your consultation is free.
Elder abuse can arise from a one-time violent encounter or a systematic pattern of negligent behavior.
Elder abuse can be a one-time violent encounter, or a pattern of damaging behavior by caregivers. These are the most common types of abuse seen in a nursing home setting:
- Physical abuse: Striking, pushing, pinching, twisting, or putting painful pressure on a resident to keep him under control, punish him, or because a staff member enjoys abusing power. Using mechanical restraints on patients, like tying them to their beds or chairs to keep them from getting up or causing trouble, can also be physical abuse: it’s illegal to restrain someone who isn’t a danger to himself or others. Residents can also hurt themselves trying to escape unlawful restraints, adding to the injury.
- Emotional abuse: Also called mental or psychological abuse, emotional abuse is hard to spot, but it makes up an estimated 54% of elder abuse cases (AgingWell. It can take many forms, from demeaning and belittling the senior to threatening the senior with physical harm, as well as isolating the senior, making false accusations, undermining the senior’s authority, destroying confidence, and in any way causing mental and emotional pain to the senior.
- Sexual abuse: This form of abuse can injure both the body and the mind. Since many nursing home residents don’t have the capacity to consent to sexual contact, any overtures by staff members, or attempts by other residents, are violations and must be punished harshly.
- Financial abuse: Many seniors take personal possessions with them when they check into a nursing home, and without oversight, staff members may steal those possessions. Another common form of financial exploitation is when staff members convince their elderly charges to “loan” them money for personal problems or “invest” in a business scam.
- Neglect: When caregivers fail to check their patients, interact with their patients, or provide the required care to their patients, it counts as neglect. Neglecting to give a nursing home resident her medicine on time, or take her to the bathroom, or feed her, can end in a life-threatening complication.
Any act or omission like this by a caretaker will cause suffering, pain, loss of dignity, and an overall diminished quality of life for the victim. The emotional damage by itself can take years away from a senior, and they tend to have poorer health after undergoing any form of abuse.
The most important thing you can do is be involved in your loved one’s life. Visit the nursing home or rehab facility or ask someone else to check in. Ask questions of the staff and listen to their answers, as well as their body language. Are residents wandering around without supervision? Do caregivers seem flustered or forgetful? These may be signs that the nursing home is understaffed. Unfortunately, these companies sometimes care more about squeezing out profits than providing adequate, experienced, and round-the-clock care. They tell themselves it’s “good enough,” but it’s not.
If your loved one shows the following signs, it might indicate abuse or neglect at the nursing home:
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Personality swings
- Depression or low energy
- Unexplained marks on the body
- Unexplained fear or unease around a certain person
- Poor hygiene
Not everything is a symptom of abuse. Sometimes, a senior has a degenerative disease, like Alzheimer’s or dementia, which can cause these symptoms. The important thing is to find out why your loved one is acting this way, and an experienced Long Beach nursing home abuse lawyer may be able to help.
If you suspect mishandling in a nursing facility, it is important to consider the following steps:
- Remain calm. While this may sound trite, it is the farthest thing from it. Discovering the abuse of one's parent, sibling, partner, or child in an assisted living facility can create a tremendous surge of emotion. Collect yourself and think the moment through before making hasty decisions. Any steps taken against those you suspect may result in legal trouble for you and cause serious damage to any case you may have in the long run.
- Document everything. Evidence is key. To successfully bring a case against state-regulated and privatized care homes, you'll need documentation proving the abuse. Photographic and video evidence, testimony from your loved one, and any type of written or oral proof you can gather will strengthen the case substantially. Remember, neglect or abuse can take a variety of forms – emotional, physical, and sexual. Look for obvious and not-so-obvious signs from your loved one and record them all.
- Report it. Every county in California has an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency, which oversees adult care homes and nursing facilities for your particular area. Of course, if the abuse is severe enough, you'll want to call the police or 911 immediately. For anything that isn't life-threatening, call the Los Angeles County APS to report the abuse. By utilizing the proper channels, you'll set up a chain of custody that further strengthens your case should it need to go beyond the state regulators.
- Call a lawyer who handles elder abuse. Speaking with a qualified Long Beach nursing home abuse attorney can only serve to help your case. With proper counsel, you will be able to make educated decisions on your legal options and move forward with any potential lawsuit.
The mistreatment of our senior citizens by those who have been charged with their care is beyond reprehensible. It is a despicable act, perpetrated by the most cowardly of individuals. This behavior must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. Joseph H. Low IV has built his practice on the defense of those who cannot defend themselves - he will fight tirelessly and fiercely for justice against those who have violated your family's trust.
Don't let these delinquent facilities and negligent caregivers carry on without repercussions. Call The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV today for a free consultation. Together we can start the healing process and hold those agencies accountable. To get answers to your nursing home abuse questions, please contact our office at (888) 454-5569.