With about 2 million people residing in nursing home facilities and the numbers growing steadily as the baby boomer generation ages, reports of abuse seem to persist. There are thousands of facilities nationwide, for profit and not-for-profit homes, housing our elderly relatives and friends who are incapable of self-management or for whom we are unable, or unwilling, to assist. The cost and time involved in caring for many of our elderly citizens, or anyone 65 and over, has resulted in a proliferation of these facilities.

Unfortunately, elderly care is a low paying job and facilities are desperate for workers to perform tasks that many of us would rather not do, including bathing, clothing, changing and feeding residents not to mention entertaining them and administering to their health needs, some of which are complex and substantial. Although many workers are hardworking and perform their jobs diligently and with love and care, a substantial number do not with some treating residents abusively and cruelly.

If you have an elderly relative in a nursing facility and you suspect abuse, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer such as Boston attorney Paul Tetzel about your legal options as well as what can be done to eliminate the practice and provide adequate treatment and safe care for your loved one.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

There are different types of nursing home abuse: physical, psychological and financial. The signs of physical abuse may be obvious, though staff and even the resident, out of fear or dementia, may give other explanations for the signs. Physical abuse signs include:

  • Bruises on arms, wrists, face or other parts of the body
  • Broken limbs
  • Untreated wounds
  • Dehydration
  • Malnourishment
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss
  • Unhygienic conditions in the resident’s room and/or throughout the facility
  • Bruises in the genital area
  • Bed sores that are left untreated
  • Frequent infections and illnesses
  • Constantly heavily medicated or sedated
  • Residents who are in pain and not given medication for long periods of time

While falls are not uncommon in nursing homes, staff is required to oversee residents who are having mobility problems. Falls also occur when a bed lacks rails or when staff negligently drops residents when moving them. Broken limbs and bruises can be the result of falls or from being struck by a staff member or other resident who has a history of violent behavior.

Signs of psychological abuse include:

  • Reluctance by a resident to speak in presence of staff
  • Sudden and unexplained mood changes or depression
  • Isolation of the resident
  • Exhibiting fear in the presence of a staff person or other resident
  • Hearing a staff member intimidate, threaten or bully other residents
  • Not allowing a resident interaction with others

Although these signs may not be so evident, you should be cognizant of how other residents are being treated since these same nurses or staff are interacting with your loved one as well.

Signs of Financial Abuse

You should be checking your relative’s healthcare records if you suspect financial exploitation or other unlawful practices. Some homes do charge for services that are never rendered or double bill for them. If your loved one is not receiving prescribed medication, not only take measures to remedy this situation but look to see if this is being charged anyway. Records may also reflect charges for products or services that are different than what your loved one received or which were never provided.

The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 established a nursing home bill of rights for its residents. All residents have a right to a comprehensive health care plan to ensure proper medical treatment and care, adequate staffing, supervision by a physician, assistive devices and a decent quality of life among other similar rights. If a facility fails to provide these, you should consult with Paul Tetzel, a Boston nursing home abuse lawyer who has successfully handled nursing home abuse claims and held facilities accountable for their unlawful practices as well as obtaining substantial compensation for his clients.