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Tips If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect


As the population of the United States ages, more and more people find themselves turning to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide care for their aging loved ones. Residents of these types of facilities are often vulnerable in that they are elderly, frail, and often have cognitive problems associated with age or illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Contributing to the potential for abuse is that fact that sometimes these care facilities may be far away from children or other loved ones, leaving the resident with no one to monitor the care they receive. As such, they are frequently victims of abuse and negligence.

Nursing homes and other such facilities often try to conceal their abusive conduct or negligent conditions from family members. When caught, they typically offer a defense centering on improperly trained or insufficient staff; however, none of these excuses are sufficient as the operator of such a facility – often a licensed nursing home administration or Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA) – is legally obligated to provide the necessary standard of care. In a nursing home abuse or negligence case, lack of staff, poor instruction, or simple ignorance can lead not only to liability for the facility, but often to a dire, possibly life-threatening result for your loved one.

Surprisingly, not all nursing home abuse comes from the facility’s staff. Put simply, residents don’t always get along. A recent study of nursing home abuse found that nearly 20% of incidents in nursing homes are part of an “epidemic of resident-to-resident hostile behavior.”

Researchers at Cornell University-Weill Cornell Medical College found that 19.8% of nursing home residents surveyed had been subjected during the previous month to what the researchers called “resident-to-resident elder mistreatment,” including verbal, physical or sexual abuse.

As the New York Times reports, the researchers spent five years observing and interviewing more than 2,000 residents at 10 nursing homes. They also interviewed staff, read incident reports and asked residents and staff members to complete a research-based questionnaire.

The findings were startling. Residents reported that fellow residents had subjected them to:

- Verbal incidents (shouting, screaming, yelling) 16%

- Intrusions on privacy (unwelcome entry, going through items) 10.5%

- Physical incidents (hitting, kicking, biting) 5.7%

- Sexual incidents (touching, exposing one’s genitals) 1.3%

If your loved one resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility and you suspect abuse – whether from staff or other residents – or neglect in the facility’s duty as to how it provides care, there are certain steps you can take to try to keep this type of abuse from happening. These steps include:

  • Visit – You should visit the nursing home frequently, and instead of going at the same time or on the same day each time, mix it up. Often times a nursing home or assisted living facility’s staff will become accustom to a family member’s visiting schedule and will refrain from abusive behavior in anticipation of your visit. Make an unexpected visit. You may be able to catch those who are mistreating your family member in the act. You could may also sense a tension in the air that could indicate something is amiss.

  • Express your concerns – Ask your loved one about life in the nursing home. What does he or she do during the day? How does your loved one get along with other residents? Look for signs of physical abuse as well as indicators of emotional abuse, including unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, sudden changes in alertness and unusual depression.

  • Report your findings – Talk to the nursing home administrator, social worker, or a staff person about any signs of suspected abuse or mistreatment that you have noticed. Be calm. Don’t make accusations. If your concerns are not sufficiently addressed by the nursing home, contact your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman. An ombudsman is employed to advocate on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities and to help resolve complaints about care issues. The ombudsman can advise you and help you to file a formal complaint against the nursing home, if necessary. Here is a very informative brochure from the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

  • Act in an emergency – If you believe your loved one or any nursing home resident is in imminent danger, contact local law enforcement and/or emergency responders. In other words, call 911 without delay. The willful intent to hurt someone or to allow someone to be hurt is a crime.

  • Educate your self – The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) website features a variety of resources about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

  • Get Legal Help! – Nursing home residents have rights, including the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Administrators at every nursing home have a legal obligation to ensure that the rights of residents under their care are upheld, and their well-being is ensured. It is unacceptable for nursing home staff to neglect addressing mistreatment of residents – whether it is abuse by other residents, staff or anyone else.

At Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP our attorneys are dedicated to representing nursing home residents and the families of residents who have been abused or neglected, including those who have been abused by fellow residents. We are experienced in this area of the law and have intimate knowledge of how nursing homes and assisted living facilities operate.

Contact us right away if you have any questions about your loved one’s well-being in a nursing home. We will be happy to discuss your concerns and advise you of potential legal actions you can take. Consults are free and there is no cost to you unless we recover on your behalf.


Content of this article is not the original product of Drinkwater & Goldstein, LLP. Reposted from its original sources, here:

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