A major concern for owners of nursing homes is abuse of their residents. While no one knows just how many people are affected by elderly abuse, some estimates suggest that as many as one in ten seniors experience abuse of some kind. Unfortunately, many elderly people are abused, and often the culprit is one of the nurses or orderlies meant to care for them, which illustrates the importance of nursing home malpractice insurance.
Elder abuse occurs when someone causes harm to an elderly person, or puts him or her at risk of serious harm; in some cases it is an intentional act, while many times it is simply due to neglect.
While physical abuse is often the result of an attack by an abusive care-giver or another patient, abuse can take different forms, including:
- Physical abuse or threats
- Emotional abuse inflicted through verbal or nonverbal acts
- Neglect or abandonment, and
While elder abuse can happen to anyone, there are factors that can make some seniors more vulnerable to abuse than others. For instance, older people living in nursing homes may face a higher risk of abuse or neglect if staff members are not properly screened or receive inadequate training. The risks are also higher for elderly individuals who are socially isolated or mentally impaired by dementia or mental illness, due in part to the fact that these seniors are often unable to communicate with their loved ones when something is wrong.
Elder abuse goes undetected at times
Researchers estimate that, sadly only one in five cases of elder abuse ever gets reported, which means that many of the abused are not getting the help they need to both, cope with, and prevent occurrences. In order to keep elderly residents safe from harm it is important for those close at hand to be familiar with the warning signs of elder abuse.
Possible indicators that something may be amiss include physical signs of abuse, poor hygiene, bedsores or other unattended medical needs, sudden depression or withdrawal from normal activities, and any abrupt changes in financial circumstances.
The best way to help prevent nursing home malpractice situations is to be alert to the signs of potential abuse. Caregivers and owners should do thorough background checks on new hires to avoid situations that could lead to abuse and any ensuing litigation.