Birmingham Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
When you leave your loved one in the care of a nursing home, you reasonably assume the home will look after his or her mental and physical wellbeing. It may be difficult to wrap your mind around nursing home abuse, but sadly, it happens every day. Our Birmingham nursing home abuse attorneys unfortunately know that some nursing home employees take advantage of weak elderly residents, making them victims of physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing home abuse in the state of Alabama, contact an experienced Birmingham injury attorney for a free initial legal consultation.
Understanding Elder Abuse
As many people age they find that independent living grows more and more challenging with time. Many elderly individuals develop medical conditions and other health issues late in life and may depend on a caregiver or family to help them with everyday tasks. When the people responsible for caring for elderly individuals use their position to harm the elders in their care, they commit elder abuse. All forms of nursing home abuse are elder abuse, but it’s vital for Alabama seniors to understand that many elder abuse cases happen amongst family members or outside of nursing homes.
Some adult children may take care of their elderly parents and use the situation to manipulate or exploit them. Financial elder abuse is very common, especially for older adults with cognitive issues, deteriorating memories, or other neurological conditions. A caregiver may take advantage of an elderly person in this vulnerable state and sign up for credit cards in his or her name, steal money, or otherwise commit fraud using the elderly person’s personal information.
An adult child who receives an elderly parent’s power of attorney or becomes a trustee may take advantage of the situation for personal gain. For example, refusing to honor a parent’s last wishes of keeping the family home in the family line and instead listing it for sale could be elder abuse if it diminishes the parent’s quality of life or violates his or her wishes. Other family members may then intervene to prove that the executor or power of attorney holder abused, deceived, or coerced the parent.
Many older adults want to retain as much independence as possible for as long as possible and dread the thought of entering nursing homes. Family members have a duty to respect their wishes and only act in their best interests. Eventually, entering a nursing home may be a necessity. Older adults with many health problems and limited self-sufficiency may require constant aid and supervision that their children may be too busy to provide. When older Alabama residents enter nursing homes or assisted living facilities, it’s vital for them and their families to understand the various types of nursing home abuse and how to spot it.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Residents with dementia are particularly at risk of abuse since employees know the resident may not be able to remember the incident or people won’t believe them if they speak up. Elderly people with substantial assets are at risk of financial abuse, in which a nursing home employee may deceive the resident into giving him or her money. Financial and physical abuse may go hand in hand if the employee threatens physical pain if the resident does not obey demands.
Physical abuse can range from refusing to feed or clean a resident to striking the resident. Employees may grow impatient with residents and push or shove them around, leading to slip and falls and other types of serious injuries and accidents. Employees may also handle the resident too roughly, leaving fingerprint bruises on the upper arms. Intentionally leaving the resident in a dirty adult diaper or similar situation is also abuse and can lead to painful bedsores and infections.
Bedsores are extremely painful injuries that can turn life-threatening if left unaddressed. The constant pressure of being stuck in the same position for too long will cause blood to pool in the lowest areas of the body and the skin will eventually break, creating a painful sore that is vulnerable to infection. Neglect can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and vitamin deficiencies. Elderly nursing home residents likely have medical conditions already, and these issues can make severely diminish their quality of living or even put their lives in jeopardy.
Mental abuse occurs when an employee yells, disrespects, shames, or verbally abuses a resident. A resident can suffer greatly from mental abuse and become withdrawn from social activities. They may express feelings of fright, guilt, or depression with no explanation. Mental abuse can be difficult to detect. Paying attention to how staffers speak to each other can point to how they might speak to residents when no one is around. If they are rude or impatient, it can be a red flag for mental abuse.
Some nursing home employees have lost their jobs and faced heavy legal penalties for demeaning, pranking, and otherwise exploiting residents in their care. Nursing home staff who make fun of residents on social media or carelessly divulge protected medical information can face fines for HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations and even criminal charges in some cases. Nursing home staff must discharge their duties respectfully and with their patients’ best interests in mind.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The best way to pick up on nursing home abuse is to visit your loved one regularly. The more time you spend at the nursing home and talking with your loved one, the more you’ll be able to detect suspicious activity.
Signs of physical abuse can include:
- Unexplained injuries or visits to the hospital
- Burn injuries
- Bruising on the upper arms
- Bruising beneath clothing, where it wouldn’t normally be visible
- Skin abrasions from tight restraints
- Scratches or bite marks
Mental abuse can be more difficult to detect, but the more you visit your loved one, the easier it will be to discover. If your loved one has a sudden change in behavior or seems withdrawn, ask him or her what’s wrong. Though it may be easy to assume your loved one’s claims are due to dementia or Alzheimer’s – investigate the claims thoroughly before writing them off.
You can detect financial abuse by keeping a close eye on your loved one’s finances and assets. Know what bills are paid out of the account every month, and report unusual activity immediately. Never give your loved one’s financial information away. Even family members can engage in financial abuse.
Signs of sexual abuse can range from physical evidence, such as bruising on the thighs or difficulty walking, to emotional changes. Look out for feelings of shame or guilt, pelvic injuries, or bloodied undergarments for signs of sexual abuse.
Seek Legal Help From Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Birmingham, AL
The moment you suspect nursing home abuse, report it to authorities and get your loved one out of the facility. Then, contact a Birmingham, AL nursing home abuse lawyer to file an official claim against the facility. The Mitchell Law Firm, LLC, has experienced nursing home abuse attorneys who are dedicated to defending the rights of the elderly in nursing homes throughout Birmingham and can launch a full investigation into the facility. Contact us for legal help on behalf of your abused loved one.