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Personal Injury Law Blog | Elder Law Blog | Los Angeles Elderly Abuse

The Growing Problem of Nursing Home Abuse

Elder abuse senior woman being shouted at by nurse
Elder abuse concept with a senior woman in a wheelchair crying and covering her ears as a middle age nurse or other health care worker is yelling at her.

Nursing home abuse is a growing problem. To illustrate this, at least two recent studies show how prevalent this treatment of elderly adults is. Nursing home abuse is an increasing problem.

One of the studies included both elderly citizens and nursing home staff. Even some nursing home staff members had seen elderly abuse by other staff members. Attorneys help even the odds in all cases, and sometimes that is the only thing that exposes the harm to the court and regulatory systems.


What Are Some Recent Case Studies?

The National Center for the Protection of Older People at the University College Dublin found in their research that over one in four employees had witnessed psychological abuse. This kind of ill-treatment includes treatment such as shouting, swearing or insulting the elderly resident at a nursing home.

And this is heinous enough, but to make elderly nursing home abuse even worse, one in eight employees had witnessed physical abuse of residents. So this involves pushing, shoving, pinching, grabbing or unnecessary restraint of residents.


Theft by Caretakers

This was an in-depth study, including over 1300 nurses and healthcare assistants from 64 nursing homes. The data from the research showed that physical and mental abuse was not the only crimes. There is also the fact that 1.2 percent of staff members have been seen by other employees taking valuables from residents.


Gullibility of Seniors

Many a nursing abuse law firm has argued in court that elders are susceptible to being scammed. At least one recent study that was conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, supports this argument. It focused on the brain of the elderly and found significant differences in the significant areas, compared to those in the study who were younger.

  • The study used participants from a senior living center between the ages of 55 and 84, and then they used staff members and students between the ages of 20 and 42.

They found that when showing the two groups a series of photographs, with individuals who appeared trustworthy and others with a shifty appearance, there was a tremendous difference in reactions in the brain of both groups.

  • The younger participants were able to quickly identify the people in the photos who should not be trusted
  • The elderly group of members did not have the same gut reaction.

“Gut Reaction” Response Seems to Disappear in Elder Brains

Further, testing using an MRI showed that the part of the brain known as the anterior insula in older participants lacked activity, wherein the younger participants there was a flurry of activity.

  • The anterior insula is the part of the brain that “gut reactions” come from.

So this makes you feel ill-at-ease or stressed, to pick up behaviors, and helps you in making difficult decisions.

  • This lack of anterior insula activity, researchers determined, makes it difficult for the elderly citizen to recognize the appearance and behavior signals of being scammed.

This puts them at risk that can:

  • Cost them their life savings
  • Bring them in physical danger.

These are only two of the recent studies concerning nursing home abuse. They show possible reasons that nursing home abuse and scamming of elders occurs so often. Some abusers know no empathy.


What are Some Recent Cases of Abuse?

Recently, two nurses were held responsible for felony elder abuse of a nursing home resident who succumbed to the lack of proper care. One of the staff involved was a registered nurse and director of nursing at the now defunct El Dorado Care Center.

This now-closed location is where the abuse is alleged to have occurred. When the resident was taken to the hospital, the ER documented injuries, other than the reason for being admitted to the hospital, which included bruises and a wound on her pinky finger.

The nursing home owner, Horizon West Healthcare Inc., when held accountable, settled the claim for:

  • $3 million
  • Sold 27 nursing homes it owned

In civil court, the husband of the elder abuse victim, as a part of his lawsuit, claimed the nursing home was understaffed to maximize profits.

What About The Unreported Abuse?

These nursing home employees were held accountable in the above cases. However, there are thousands of cases of nursing home abuse, with what is believed to be approximately half or more never reported to authorities. This silence is because in most cases, the nursing home resident feels defenseless.

They do not believe they have an avenue to stop the mistreatment, so they live in fear of the abuse. And this is what the nursing home staff member, who won’t give proper care, counts on. Often the elder abuse only comes to light because of the family members who recognize the signs!

So they are forced to go to the authorities and perhaps an elder abuse lawyer. But what about the elder who has no immediate family or friends to raise the alarm? What do they do? Where is the oversight? Lobbying Sacramento is one way to help reel in the mistreatment. But civility and empathy are the only way to end harm to our seniors.

Obviously, there is a lot to this. Of course, there are many excellent care providers. But all it takes is one weak link in the chain, and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Be forever vigilant about the abuse of seniors. An elderly law abuse attorney can help even some of the odds, as noted above. If you need help with an elderly abuse law question, use our online contact form, or call Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC at (213) 596-9642.

Forms of Elder Abuse – Exhaustive List

Caring nurse holding kind elderly lady's hands in bed.
Caring nurse holding a kind elderly lady’s hands in a hospital bed.

Abuse of the elderly is a problem that is growing. We don’t know why it happens or how to stop the spread of this kind of behavior. But we do know there is assistance available for the victim of elder abuse. We have attempted here to create an exhaustive list of elderly abuse in its many forms.

For the list of the more common types go here. One of the things that can be done is for the concerned person, to know the warning signs. That way, if a possible problem exists, people can call for help.


Physical Abuse Defined

The definition of physical abuse is the use of force, which can result in bodily injury, impairment or physical pain. This type of damage can include acts of violence, such as hitting, slapping, pinching, striking. And this could be with or without using an object.

For example, pushing, shoving, shaking, beating, kicking and burning could be the method. But this is not limited to these uses of force. There can also be the inappropriate use of physical restraints; force-feeding, use of drugs, and any type of physical punishment. All are also physical abuse.


What Are Some Physical Abuse Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse?

These are the most exhaustive results of physical abuse but are not limited to these signs or symptoms.

  • A report by an older adult of being mistreated, hit, slapped, or kicked.
  • Caregiver’s refusal to allow the older adult to be seen by visitors alone.
  • Sudden changes in the elderly person’s behavior.
  • Physical signs of being subjected to punishment.
  • Signs of being restrained, such as wrist and ankle bruising, lacerations, or red marks. There may be signs of a lack of proper circulation to the heels.
  • Broken eyeglass frames.
  • Unexplained or frequent bruising, lacerations and welts.
  • Sprains and dislocations.
  • Fractured bones, broken bones and skull fractures.
  • Open wounds, cuts, and punctures.
  • Signs of untreated wounds in various stages of healing.
  • Rope burns.
  • Internal injuries and bleeding.
  • Underuse of prescribed drugs.
  • Laboratory findings of medication overdoses.

Sexual Abuse of Dependents

Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse, which is the act of non-consensual contact of any type with an elderly adult. This mistreatment can be sexual contact with anyone, who is not capable of giving consent.

Sexual abuse and rape are not limited to unwanted touching. So this includes all types of sexual assault, battery, including rape, sodomy, sexually explicit photographing, and coerced nudity.

Sexual Abuse Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • The report by an older adult of being sexually assaulted or raped.
  • Bruising around the breasts or genital area.
  • Stained, torn or bloody underclothing.
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding.
  • Genital infections
  • Venereal disease

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

The definition of emotional or psychological abuse is the infliction of pain, distress or anguish by verbal or non-verbal acts. This type of abuse includes verbal assaults, insults, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, and threats. But it is not limited to these.

Isolating an elderly person from his or her family or activities, or giving them the “silent treatment.” These are all forms of forced social isolation. Hence, they are forms of emotional or psychological abuse. Threatening a senior can be equated to threatening an infant. After all, they are dependent on the healthcare provider or nursing home staff.


Emotional or Psychological Abuse Signs and Symptoms

These are common signs and symptoms of emotional or psychological abuse but are not limited to these.

  • Reports by the elderly person of being verbally or emotionally mistreated.
  • The behavior of being extremely withdrawn.
  • Non-communicative
  • Non-responsive
  • Unusual behavior, which could be attributed as signs of dementia, but is not in reality, including rocking, sucking and biting.

More Signs Of Elderly Neglect

Neglect can take several forms, generally the refusal of providing the elderly adult with necessities, such as shelter, food, water, personal hygiene, personal safety, medicine, comfort and other essentials, which are agreed upon or implied in the caretaker’s responsibility to an older adult.

Neglect can be the failure or refusal in any way of a person or staff members obligated duties to the elderly person. It can also be a failure on the part of a person, who has fiduciary responsibilities. So it’s a failure to provide care for the elderly person.

  • Part of elder care means paying for necessary home care services or long-term care facility costs.
  • Failure to disburse funds for this care can be a failure of an in-home service provider, to give the necessary attention required.

What are Some Signs and Symptoms of Neglect?

There are common signs and symptoms of neglect, but it is not limited to these:

  • Reports of neglect by the elderly adult.
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Lack of personal hygiene.
  • Untreated or unattended health issues.
  • Untreated bed sores and other wounds.
  • Unsafe or hazardous living conditions or arrangements. Unsafe living conditions can include no running water, no heat, and improper wiring.
  • Unsanitary or Unclean living conditions. This filthy life can include dirty living conditions; urine/ fecal odor, inadequate clothing or soiled clothing, soiled bedding, fleas, and lice.

What is Abandonment?

The definition of elderly abandonment abuse, is the desertion of an older adult, by the individual who has assumed the responsibility of caring for them, or by an individual, who has physical custody of the older adult.

Abandonment – Signs and Symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of abandonment can include the following, but are not limited to them:

  • A report by the elderly person of abandonment
  • Despondency
  • Bedsores
  • Fear of hands
  • Many more signs here.

Desertion of an elderly person at any of the following:

  • Shopping centers
  • Public locations
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing facilities
  • Long-term healthcare facilities
  • The desertion of the elderly adult at any other places

Financial or Material Exploitation?

The definition of financial or material exploitation is the improper or illegal use of a senior’s funds, assets or property, by an another. This abuse can be the cashing of the older adult’s checks, without permission or authorization. It could include forging their signature, stealing or misusing their possessions or money.

Deceiving or coercing an older adult to sign documents, contacts or wills is part of it. But it can also be the improper use of guardianship, power of attorney or conservatorship.


Signs and Symptoms of Financial or Material Exploitation?

These are common signs and symptoms of financial or material exploitation of an older adult. But these are not limited to these alone:

  • Reports of financial exploitation by an elderly person.
  • Providing services that are not necessary and financially costly.
  • Unpaid bills, even when there is adequate availability of financial resources.
  • The appearance of relatives, who have not been involved with the older adult or their care, suddenly claiming their rights to the elderly person’s affairs and possessions.
  • Additional names being included on an older adult’s bank signature card.
  • Sudden changes in banking practices or bank accounts. This can mean the withdrawal of large sums of money by an individual and may be accompanied by an elderly adult.
  • Sudden transfers of assets to a family member or someone that is not related to the elderly adult.
  • Sudden changes in financial documents or wills.
  • Forgery of the elderly person’s signature for financial transactions or titles of his or her possessions.
  • Withdrawals using the elderly person’s ATM cards to remove their funds.
  • The disappearance of funds or possessions that are unexplained.

Self Neglect

This type of self-inflicted harm can occur and is not so easily spotted unless the care provider is on top of their game. This insecurity occurs when an older adult’s behavior becomes a threat to his or her safety. This insecurity typically happens with an older adult, who refuses or fails to provide themselves with shelter, adequate food, water, clothing. Often, personal hygiene or prescribed medications, as well as practicing safety precautions are at risk.

Self-neglect does not include situations where the older adult is mentally competent. It means they must have a complete understanding of the consequences of their decisions. This is a conscious or voluntary decision to act in a way that could threaten his or her health or safety and is a choice. So it means they know, rather than not being aware of the consequences their actions could bring.

What are Some Signs and Symptoms of Self Neglect?

The common signs and symptoms of self-neglect can include the following, but are not limited to:

  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Improper or untreated medical conditions.
  • Lack of proper personal hygiene.
  • Living in unclean or unsanitary conditions. This condition can include insect infestations, urine or fecal odor, non-functioning toilet, and animal waste.
  • Unsafe or hazardous living conditions or arrangements. This includes having no running water, indoor plumbing, no heat or improper wiring.
  • Living in grossly inadequate housing.
  • Being homeless.

Above are the many signs and symptoms of elder abuse and neglect. If you have seen this in a person under care, or elderly, do the right thing. Report this to law enforcement and help the victim get an elder abuse attorney.

Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 West 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA
90071 United States
(213) 596-9642
Elderly Abuse, Nursing Care Abuse, Nursing Ethics

Other Sources:

http://nyceac.com/elder-justice-dispatch-a-round-up-of-elder-justice-news-january-2013/

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Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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