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As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elder abuse is defined as abuse or neglect by caregivers or other persons of those age 60 or older. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse often goes unreported. Of the 2 million elderly in nursing home facilities, it’s estimated that only 20% of abuse cases are reported.
Elderly persons may feel shameful, embarrassed, or even physically unable to report the abuse due to pain or fear. Even worse, residents may lack the mental capacity to report the abuse themselves or the physical strength to defend themselves. It takes informed friends and family members to know not only the warning signs of nursing home abuse but also what to do after you suspect or identify the abuse.
After you’ve identified nursing home abuse, following these steps will help you build a strong nursing home abuse case with a knowledgeable attorney.
Reporting nursing home abuse can be hard to prove because it’s time-sensitive. Lacerations heal, behavior fluctuates, and staff turnover rates in nursing home facilities are high. The sooner the intervention, the stronger the case.
You have options for competent and trustworthy resources to report nursing home abuse. For starters, you can do any or several of the following:
Begin the process of moving your loved one to another facility immediately. You might encounter some heavy resistance, as they may have made friends and established a routine. Your loved one might fear that the next home will be worse; keep in mind that their trust has been significantly broken. Plus, transitions are difficult, especially for the elderly, so just be patient.
Be sure to go above and beyond when researching the next facility. Research staff-to-patient ratio and ensure that the home can accommodate any medical needs your loved one has. If possible, see if you can talk to other residents and their family members to gather information about personal experiences.
After you’ve done all the necessary reporting, it’s just a important to seek legal counsel, even if the suspected abuse is minor. Since proving nursing home abuse is time-sensitive, gathering the names of all caretakers responsible for your loved one, dates, and photographs are crucial to your claim. Be as specific as you can, not only when you’re reporting the abuse to proper authorities but also when meeting with your elderly abuse attorney.
If it can be demonstrated that a nursing home or its caretakers have been abusing or neglecting your loved one, they may be liable for the damages. In a nursing home abuse lawsuit, you may be awarded compensation for:
Punitive damages are awarded only in rare and serious cases, but it’s worth a conversation when consulting with your attorney.
Be aware that nursing home abuse isn’t just committed by staff; visitors of other residents can commit the abuse as well as other residents. It’s up to the facility to protect their patients from abuse, no matter the source. In other words, instead of individual liability on behalf of a caretaker, the nursing home facility itself can be found liable for damages.
If your elderly loved one has been abused at their care facility, contact the Indianapolis Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.