Nursing home abuse is unacceptable in any setting, but it unfortunately happens. When it does, it’s important to quickly take action to protect your parent or grandparent and provide them with the quality living place they deserve. 

Nursing homes are meant to be safe places for elderly parents and grandparents to live when they can no longer care for themselves. But sometimes, that safety is compromised and must be addressed immediately to prevent further harm.

Education is everything when it comes to nursing home abuse. That’s why we’re dedicating a whole blog to it. 

We’re defining what nursing home abuse is, providing examples of what it looks like, and teaching you how to prove emotional abuse, which can be challenging. Finally, we’ll explain how to report nursing home abuse so that you can keep your loved one safe.

What Is Considered Abuse?

Nursing home abuse can be difficult to identify because it’s often subtle and unnoticeable. But its effects can devastate residents, making it essential to learn the signs of nursing home abuse to protect your parents and grandparents in their new home. 

Nursing home abuse is categorized as follows:

  • Physical abuse includes any physical harm inflicted on a resident that causes injury, distress, or death. Burning, hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, striking with objects, and using unnecessary restraints — physical or medicinal — are all signs of physical nursing home abuse.
  • Nursing home neglect happens when a resident doesn’t receive the care they need for extended periods. Waiting five minutes for a nurse to tend to a patient does not constitute neglect, even if your parent or grandparent is impatient.
    But if a patient is getting dehydrated, developing pressure sores, etc., they are being neglected. Unfortunately, neglect can result in death, making it essential to catch and resolve neglect quickly.
  • Sexual abuse involves any form of unwanted sexual contact or activity. In recent years, data has shown that over 1,000 nursing homes in the United States have been cited for not properly handling sexual abuse cases.
  • Other types of abuse include financial and emotional abuse. Financial abuse involves misusing or stealing a patient’s funds. Emotional abuse involves causing a patient mental pain, fear, or distress — name-calling and belittling are common examples.

How to Prove Emotional Abuse

It can be difficult to prove emotional abuse because it’s not often visible. Your parents or grandparents may also try to hide the abuse because they’re afraid of retaliation. 

If you suspect emotional abuse, look for signs of it that will help you prove the abuse. Those include depression, avoiding eye contact, eating or sleeping differently, isolating themselves, lower self-esteem, mood swings, and behavior or personality changes.

If you notice these signs, talk to your loved ones about what they’re going through. See if you can get them to open up. Watch how nursing home staff interact with them. Pull out your phone, and start recording if you see abuse.

The Most Common Nursing Home Complaints

Keep in mind that complaints aren’t necessarily abuse. However, minor complaints here and there can indicate a more significant problem that needs to be addressed.

The most common complaints that your parent or grandparent might make include poor quality food, sleep disruptions, lack of social interaction, and short staffing. All of these complaints are common to living with other people, but again, there are out-of-the-ordinary cases where something is wrong. 

A Nurse’s Responsibility to Report Abuse

Nurses have the unique position of being at the center of everything. Because of this, they might see the signs of abuse before you suspect them. Nurses are “mandated reporters,” meaning they must report abuse. 

Because abuse can be nuanced, nurses must learn the signs of abuse. For example, if a social patient is suddenly withdrawn, this can indicate an underlying problem. Noticing abuse but failing to report it can come with disciplinary consequences. 

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect that your parent or grandparent is being abused, there are steps you can take to end the abuse. Of course, protecting your loved one is going to be your top priority.

If your loved one is in a Utah nursing home, you can report the abuse to the Utah Aging and Adult Services Division or via the Elderly Abuse Hotline at 800.371.7897.

If you aren’t sure if your loved one is being abused, but you’re worried about it, there are steps you can take. Contact your state’s branch of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. They are responsible for visiting your loved one and investigating whether they are being abused. 

Ways to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse

While your loved one is in a nursing home, regular visits where you monitor their well-being can reduce the risk of abuse. Staff members who see regular visitors are less likely to abuse a resident for fear of getting caught. 

Another preventative measure you can take is switching nursing homes if you suspect a problem. Sometimes, moving a parent or grandparent to a different home can solve the problem and keep them safe, which is the ultimate goal. 

Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson

If your parent or grandparent has experienced nursing home abuse, you may be able to file a lawsuit and get them the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering.

The team at Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson can help. With over 150 years of combined experience representing personal injury victims, we have the skills and expertise you’re looking for to represent the ones you love the most. 

We offer free case evaluations where we review your case and discuss with you how we can best represent you. With offices in Provo and West Jordan, we’re here to provide you with the representation you need for your case. Visit our contact page or call us at 801.500.4000 to schedule your free case evaluation today.