Nursing home abuse is one of the most heartbreaking situations imaginable and unfortunately, it is on the rise. Last year, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reported that out of 2,000 nursing home residents, 44% had experienced abuse of some kind and 95% of them had either been neglected or had witnessed others being neglected. Equally as horrific, the NCEA’s previous data from 2016 revealed that those personnel who are supposed to be providing medical care to the elderly are responsible for 10 percent of all reported senior abuse cases. Sadly, even those we rely on to care for our loved ones cannot always be trusted.
We consider one of our most important missions at Future Firm Law to represent the victims of nursing home abuse and neglect, and their family members. If you have a loved one in a Florida nursing home and are concerned about their health and well-being, or if your family member has tragically passed away as a result of negligence or abuse in a nursing home, we are here for you. We will investigate the claims of abuse and will file a lawsuit on your behalf for wrongful injuries or death. While nothing can make up for the abuses your family member has experienced, Future Firm Law will make sure those who are at fault pay dearly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of elder abuse is the neglect and abuse of people who are age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship that involves an expectation of trust. This designation also applies to medical professionals and caregivers in a nursing home setting.
Florida law addresses the public health and welfare of seniors by defining abuse as inflicting harm or injury that is emotional, physical, financial or sexual in nature. It is also considered negligence if a caregiver fails to give services to a senior when they are contractually obligated to do so, leading to a danger to the safety, health and welfare of the individual.
The bottom line is that when a nursing home agrees to accept someone as a resident, they are agreeing to provide particular services to that person—and at a minimum, they should be providing quality medical care. When the nursing home fails to meet the needs of the resident and the resident suffers injuries as a result, that is considered to be negligence.
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Psychological Issues – Neglect and abuse often extend beyond the physical signs to the psychological. Residents might develop a fear of their caregivers and be hesitant to talk about any issues they are facing, which can lead to frustration. If you notice your loved one is growing increasingly distant, or is suffering from depression, you should understand that this could be a sign of abuse or neglect and should be immediately addressed.
Poor Hygiene – Many elderly patients are not able to take care of their basic hygienic needs, and require nurses or other staff member to help keep them clean—whether it’s helping them to get dressed, brushing their teeth, combing their hair or something else. When patients are being neglected, their unkempt appearance, dirty clothing, and other issues will be very noticeable. In this country, consistent dental care is a particularly serious issue in nursing homes.
Unexplained Injuries – If your family member suffers from injuries like bruises, broken bones or head injuries, it is almost certain that he or she is being neglected or abused. While these injuries may not necessarily have been caused by a staff member physically harming them, a resident who is being neglected is more prone to having accidents because there is not any aid or assistance available for them. Falls are so common among the elderly, that the CDC reports that at least 1,800 adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries.
Unsanitary Living Conditions – When you visit your loved one at a nursing home, take a good look around. The facility itself should be kept clean and safe for residents. If the facility appears to be unclean, it is likely the patients are also not being well cared for. Federal law requires nursing home facilities to maintain a sanitary and safe environment for their residents, so if you notice that requirement is not being met, it is important to report it.
Malnutrition – Poor nutrition among the elderly is another prominent issue affecting many nursing home residents, and it can lead to serious physical issues. Sometimes there is a lack of oversight at the facility, while other times, it is a result of deliberate actions by staff members. If a patient has a medical problem like difficulty swallowing, the nursing staff should be aware of the issue and correctly address it.
Lack of Mobility – It’s common for nursing home residents to have at least some difficulty with mobility. Most nursing homes will have staff who assist patients in moving around and encourage activities to keep them healthy and mobile. Good nursing facilities will provide walking programs for their patients to allow them to build strength and muscle tone and improve circulation. If your loved one is being restricted to his or her bed, there is a possibility of immobility, bedsores and other infections.
Every decision and element of care for competent adults who reside in a nursing home must be done with their involvement and consent. Under Florida state law, all nursing home residents have the right to:
If a nursing home violates any of these patients’ rights, that may constitute abuse. Nursing home residents, or their family members, who feel that any of these rights were violated or that they have been or abused or neglected can call Future Firm Law. We will represent your and your loved one’s best interests every step of the way.