Is your elderly loved one a resident in a Miami area nursing home?
We're sure you have a zero-tolerance for nursing home abuse. Have you considered the possibility that neglect could take place without your knowledge?
It's not always easy to see the warning signs, which is why the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) offers resources to help you spot and report nursing home abuse. While conducting a comprehensive review, the NCEA found the prevalence of elder abuse to be about 10%. One in ten elders will suffer physical, psychological, financial, verbal, or sexual abuse.
This increasing trend also includes neglect, which is not so easy to notice. Perhaps this is why another elder abuse prevalence study found that for every case known, another 24 were unknown.
If you want to keep your elderly loved ones safe, happy, and healthy, follow our advice. If the worst happens, we'll tell you what to do to ensure safety and seek justice to hold those guilty accountable. Read on!
Act as fast as you can
If you suspect nursing home neglect, you should move swiftly. If you think your loved one is in imminent danger, then call 911 at once. If doing this might place them at further risk of harm, contact your state Adult Protective Service (APS).
APS will help you by providing a social worker to keep your loved one safe. This social worker can investigate and validate your claims.
Abuse comes in many forms, and some may require a little detective work to uncover. The elder-population is more vulnerable than other age demographics, especially when suffering from dementia and other conditions or disabilities. If something seems suspicious, then it warrants further inquiry.
The senior population is at a greater risk of falls, and their skin bruises and tears more easily. Because of this, physical injury is sometimes hard to tie to abuse. A constant pattern of similar injuries is a red flag that something sinister might be going on.
Likewise, injuries that are not consistent with the explanation given by the elder or care-provider should be treated with skepticism. Bear in mind that an abused elder may be under the threat of further harm if they talk, so do not always be satisfied by their answers.
Gather any available evidence
Even if you have doubts about the nature of their injuries, gather as much evidence as you can. Photograph any wounds and document and date all your visits on paper.
If your loved one visits a medical facility for their injuries, request the paperwork. Ask the doctor if the injuries might be consistent with elder abuse or their reported accident.
If your loved one is showing signs of poor nutrition or dehydration, realize that indirect neglect can cause as much harm as direct abuse. If staff members seem oblivious to problems that are obvious to you, they may be guilty of neglectful behavior.
Sometimes neglect occurs due to the care-provider having a malicious streak or enjoying the power dynamic of controlling a vulnerable person. Other times there is an unhealthy work culture that may run up the management chain.
If inexperienced staff members are unsupervised, neglect can result, even though there might be no malicious intent. Poor or inadequate training can have the same effect. Overworked and tired staff can also lose their temper in a challenging environment and commit abuse.
Sometimes, chronic understaffing may lead to neglect. There may even be multiple factors or guilty parties that perpetuate the conditions of an abusive environment.
File a report with Florida Department of Children & Families
If you believe that abuse may have occurred, don't hesitate to file a report with your local authorities.
It is a legal requirement, especially among those in care positions, to report a crime such as abuse when they witness it. Contact your state ombudsman, who will liaise between the eldercare facility and your loved one.
An ombudsman can advocate and intervene, in addition to educating your loved one about their rights.
Alternatively, you can file a report online with the Florida Department of Children & Families.
Follow up consistently with your loved ones
Whether you find a situation suspicious or not, it's always good practice to frequently look in on your loved one. If you call in unexpectedly and are refused a visit, this might be a cause for concern. Raise the alarm if you suspect that you are being denied visitation with your loved one to cover up a crime.
The withholding of medication and medical devices may be a sign of neglect or psychological abuse and needs investigating in either case. Psychological abuse may be easier to identify with its emotional presentation. Look for fear, anxiety, depression, or an unresponsive state.
Be on the lookout for changes in mood, behavior, or sleep habits. These may point to emotional abuse. Vulnerable elders are extra susceptible to financial crime. Keep an eye out for theft, extortion, scams, or manipulation of your loved one's generosity.
Ideally, before you place a loved one in a facility, you should do your homework and ensure that there are no serious complaints on file. A pattern of criminal filings will highlight an environment that is geared more towards profit than care. Elder abuse is even more likely to take place in a for-profit facility for this reason.
Seek out the advice of an experienced nursing home abuse attorney
If you're considering suing a nursing home for injuries sustained by your loved one, then you need a qualified elder abuse lawyer. An attorney specializing in the eldercare field will have the relevant case experience to know how to direct legal proceedings.
When you've uncovered signs of abuse, you will likely feel great stress and pressure, which might interfere with your ability to think clearly. A nursing home abuse lawyer will know the questions to ask, the evidence to gather, and the documents to file.
Most importantly, an excellent elder abuse lawyer will know how to successfully win cases, so you can seek compensation. This might cover physical or emotional injuries, medical treatments, or additional expenses.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
We've given you an action plan to follow should you discover signs of nursing home abuse or neglect. Don't be too quick to accept innocent explanations for repeated injuries.
If you have a loved one in a Florida nursing home and you suspect abuse, we can help. We are Miami attorneys who are methodical, sensitive, and understanding. When you need a nursing home abuse lawyer, come to us for excellent legal assistance.
Contact us today to get a free consultation.