Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Despite substantial time and efforts to place elderly or disabled family members in the best long and short-term care settings, unfortunately abuse and negligence can still occur and cause irreparable harm and damages.
A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 64% of nursing home staff have admitted to abusing residents at some point in their careers, and unfortunately this statistic tends to increase in parallel with the national shortage of qualified nurses and other healthcare staff. In Illinois specifically, there is a shockingly high shortage of nursing home staff willing and able to work in managed care settings. Given the shortage of available help to tend to the needs of elderly and disabled nursing home populations, it is no surprise that high rates of abuse and negligence occur.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse, the first step is to identify potential signs. These can be difficult to spot and can display in a variety of ways. Some of the most common indicators of abuse are:
- Sudden mood or personality changes
- Bruises, scrapes, or cuts, particularly on the hands, forearms, and face
- Unexplained loss of weight, or loss of appetite
- Loss of energy or interest
- Poor hygiene
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Unkempt or soiled bedding, moldy food, and/or unclean living conditions
- Unexplained restraints or medical sedation
If you spot these or other signs of abuse, it is important to document them immediately. Keep detailed notes and take photos if possible. Report any injury to the nursing home’s medical staff and administration, and do not be afraid to request that your loved one be transferred to a hospital for treatment. Furthermore, it is absolutely critical to consult with an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney if you believe a loved one is the victim of abuse or negligence.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse in Chicago
Many types of abuse can occur in a nursing home. All are devastating for the victim and their family members. Residents of nursing home facilities tend to be highly vulnerable, whether physically or mentally, or both, and abusers often take advantage of this. It’s also important to note that the types of elder abuse listed below are not exclusive to nursing homes. Elder abuse can also occur in hospitals and at home, and even at the hands of family members.
Physical Abuse of Elders
Out of the 64% of nursing home staff that admitted to perpetrating abuse, over 9% reported that the abuse had been physical. While anyone can fall victim to physical abuse, the most commonly abused residents are those with dementia and other cognitive disabilities.
Physical abuse is of great concern because certain injuries can lead to complications and even death. Many elders have pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, which can quickly turn a small injury into something serious or life-threatening. The signs of physical abuse are often visible, but some symptoms, such as fatigue and confusion, can indicate internal injuries.
Emotional Abuse of Elders
Residents in care facilities should be treated with respect. Unfortunately, more than 32% of nursing home staff polled by the WHO indicated that they had emotionally abused a resident at some point during their career.
Emotional or psychological abuse can take the form of threats and intimidation, insults, or isolation from other residents, friends and/or family. This type of abuse can leave invisible, lasting scars upon the victim, causing anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and paranoia. Any of these outcomes can complicate prior-existing health conditions. For this reason, it is important to be alert during visits with your loved one to monitor both their physical and mental state. If you suspect emotional abuse, call a Chicago elder abuse lawyer immediately.
Financial Abuse of Elders
Many residents of nursing homes become quite close with their caregivers. Often, this is positive for their wellbeing, but sadly some staff may choose to take advantage of the situation. Financial abuse is one of the most common types of nursing home abuse, affecting those with cognitive disabilities more than others. This abuse can take the form of fraud, such as forging checks, or applying for credit cards in the resident’s name. It can also take the form of theft, such as stealing money or belongings.
Identifying signs of financial abuse can be tricky. Your loved one might be anxious when their financial situation is brought up or have no explanation for missing personal items from their room. They may also have no knowledge of their finances, even when they previously managed their own accounts. While not the most pleasant conversation topic to have when visiting a loved one, it is good to check in on their affairs periodically to ensure they are not the victim of financial abuse.
Nursing Home Neglect
Unfortunately, as numbers of qualified nursing staff continue to dwindle, and nursing home populations increase, some elders are simply being neglected and as a result nursing home neglect is on the rise nationally. Neglect can be seen as poor hygiene from infrequent bathing and grooming by care staff, or as bed sores and inadequately or untreated wounds. Daily expectations such as the administration of medications or even the provisioning food and water can get overlooked and even forgotten. If your loved one suffers from other health conditions, any of these neglectful acts or omissions can lead to tragic consequences.
What Can You Do About Nursing Home Abuse?
If you believe that your loved one is the victim of abuse, you may be feeling a combination of both anger and sadness. It is important to remember that you are doing the best you can for your loved one and that the abuse is not the result of your fault or wrongdoing on your part.
Once you have discovered the signs of abuse and recorded what you can, you should contact the nursing home administrator or facility manager with your concerns. Consider contacting the Illinois Department of Public Health and submitting a complaint to your regional ombudsman. If the level of abuse is severe or emergent, inform the police immediately.
Finally, reach out to an experienced Illinois nursing home abuse attorney whom you can trust. Working with a lawyer who is knowledgeable in nursing home abuse and applicable laws means you can begin finding the best solution for your loved one and prevent more abuse or even avoid death from occurring.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
If you believe that your loved one is or has been the victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, you should immediately contact an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse cases. Do not delay, as elder abuse matters often have tragic endings. The skilled, compassionate legal team at Parikh Law Group will help you protect your loved one’s rights, safety, and dignity. Call Parikh Law Group today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.