McAlester Nursing Home Abuse
When an Oklahoma family helps a loved one move into a nursing home, it’s because they know that they can no longer provide the skilled medical care and close personal attention their loved one needs. Family members do their best to choose nursing homes carefully. Since over 40 percent of people over the age of 65 will need nursing home care at some point, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the decision is a critical one.
Tragically, nursing home neglect and abuse is on the rise. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), one in three nursing homes nationwide were cited for violations of federal care standards in a single recent year. Ten percent of those cited had committed violations that caused residents serious harm.
Official statistics may underreport the problem, however. In a study, 44 percent of residents report abuse, and 95 percent report nursing home neglect or seeing another patient neglected. Over 50 percent of staff admitted to abusing or neglecting at least one patient in the previous year.
Nursing home neglect and abuse cannot be ignored. If you suspect abuse or neglect, act swiftly to contact the authorities and get in touch with an experienced Oklahoma and Arkansas nursing home abuse attorney who can protect your loved one’s legal rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.
- What Is Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?
Abuse or neglect of nursing home residents can take many forms. The most common include physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and nursing home neglect.
- Physical abuse may include pushing, hitting, pinching, shoving, slapping, or other physical assaults upon a nursing home resident. It might also include the improper use of restraints or medical devices in a way that deliberately inflicts unnecessary discomfort, pain, or harm. The NCEA estimates that 29 percent of all reported nursing home abuse cases involve physical abuse.
- Sexual abuse includes any touching of a sexual nature, including groping, rape, and other forms of sexual assault. It can also include verbal harassment or blackmail in which the elderly person is threatened with worse harm if he or she does not submit to the abuser’s sexual advances. About 7 percent of all reported abuse cases involve sexual abuse, according to NCEA – but, due to its sensitive nature, sexual abuse may be the most underreported of all abuse categories.
- Psychological abuse can be mental, emotional, or verbal. Staff who shout at residents, talk down to them, or play “head games” to demean or control them all engage in psychological abuse of those they are supposed to protect. While only 21 percent of reported abuse cases described psychological abuse, according the NCEA, 51 percent of certified nursing assistants in one study admitted to psychologically abusing residents by shouting at them or insulting them in the past year.
- Financial exploitation, also called “financial abuse,” is a growing problem for elderly Americans. Financial abuse occurs when another person uses a nursing home resident’s money, assets, or valuables for their own gain. Stealing cash or jewelry, identity theft, filing false insurance claims, or talking an elderly person into signing away assets can all be forms of financial exploitation.
- Neglect encompasses all situations in which a resident’s needs are ignored. It includes both physical needs like water, food, hygiene, and medication and mental and emotional needs like companionship, conversation, and support. Severe cases of nursing home abuse neglect can lead to severe injuries or even death. Neglect complaints make up about 14 percent of all nursing home complaints – but nearly all nursing home residents have seen neglect occur.
- Signs of Neglect or Abuse in a Nursing Home
Signs of nursing home neglect and abuse can be difficult to spot. Start by watching for clues that your loved one is angry, tense, or fearful near caregivers. The “mood” of the room may change when a certain staff member walks in, or staff may try to prevent you from sitting alone with your loved one, fearful of what might be revealed.
In addition, look for any change in personality or behavior in your loved one. Anxiety, depression, anger, moodiness, or seeming withdrawn can all be signs that something is wrong. Treat changes in behavior or mood as communication from your loved one and dig deeper.
Additional signs that can point to specific types of abuse include:
- Physical abuse – Unexplained injuries, including bruises, scars, broken or dislocated bones, reports of drug overdoses or under-doses, broken glasses or equipment, or a caregiver’s refusal to let you be alone with your loved one.
- Emotional abuse – Any threatening, belittling, or controlling behavior from a caregiver toward the resident, or signs that the resident is in mental distress, like rocking, chewing, sucking, or mumbling to themselves.
- Sexual abuse – Signs of injury to the breasts or genitals, like bruising or torn or bloody underclothing, or unexplained disease or injury in the genital region. Behavior might be especially withdrawn if the person feels ashamed or is being emotionally abused into silence.
- Financial abuse – Unexplained withdrawals or charges on accounts, missing personal property or cash, or financial decisions about assets (like giving away property) that have no clear need – such as selling land when the money is not needed to pay bills.
- Neglect – Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, or dehydration can indicate neglect. Also, look for pressure sores where the resident’s body comes into contact with the bed or chair. Unsanitary living conditions, poor hygiene, or regularly missed medications can also indicate neglect.
- What to Do If you Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
If the situation is an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency hotline immediately to secure medical care for the resident.
Tell someone immediately. Talk to the resident’s doctor or to a family member or friend whom you trust. Then, call the elder abuse helpline for your state. In Oklahoma, call 1-800-522-3511. In Arkansas, call 1-800-582-4887, or if you are in Pulaski County, call the local line at 501-682-8425.
When you call to report suspected abuse or neglect:
- Be as specific as you can. The more detailed you can be in your description of what you saw, heard, or experienced, the better the authorities can investigate the facility. For instance, instead of saying “My grandmother looked a mess today,” say “My grandmother was wearing the same nightgown she was wearing last week, with dried food spilled down the front. Her entire room smelled like urine, and she is complaining of pain in her back and asked repeatedly if we could help her roll over.”
- Keep reporting. Report every incident you can, in as much detail as possible. Each report collects information that can be vital to stopping abuse – not only of your loved one, but of other patients in the facility as well.
- Consider moving the resident. If possible, consider moving the resident to a new facility. Do your research to find a place that is free of the problems you’re seeing in the current living situation.
- Remember that the resident has the right to refuse help. Unless your loved one no longer has the mental capacity to make decisions, he or she has the legal right to refuse help from investigators or other sources. Be as supportive as you can without pressuring or alienating your loved one, and continue gathering evidence and keeping a watchful eye on the situation.
- Talk to a lawyer. An experienced attorney can coordinate with investigators and gather information and evidence to fight for your loved one’s right to compensation for the harm suffered.
- Recovering Nursing Home Abuse Compensation for Neglect Victims
At Edwards & Patterson Law, we know that the choice to place a loved one in skilled nursing care or another residential setting is never an easy one. We understand how important it is to find a place that is comfortable and supportive – and how devastating it is for everyone involved when a facility you trusted ends up harming someone you love. That’s why our Tulsa and Mcalester nursing home abuse attorneys investigate every case thoroughly, partner with experts when needed, and advocate strongly for our clients’ rights in settlement negotiations or in court if needed.
To learn more about how we can help, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer at our office today. Your initial consultation is free and confidential. And because we take cases on a contingency basis, you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we recover nursing home abuse compensation.
- Helpguide – Elder Abuse
If You or a Loved One are Experiencing Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse, Call a Dedicated Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today.
If have experienced Tulsa or McAlester nursing home abuse resulting in injuries, call on the experienced Oklahoma and Arkansas lawyers at Edwards & Patterson Law. We offer free case evaluations with no strings attached. Call 877-761-5059 today or contact us online. Our team takes cases on a contingency basis, which means you pay no attorney’s fees unless you recover nursing home abuse compensation.