The terms “nursing home neglect” and “nursing home abuse” are often used interchangeably. And while the two terms do share some similarities, they are also very distinct. Consider the following information about the differences between nursing home abuse and neglect, and what to do if you suspect that your elderly loved one is a victim of either—-

Nursing Home Abuse – Four Types of Abuse

  • Physical Abuse. Physical abuse is the use of physical force against a nursing home resident, such as kicking, hitting, shoving, burning, improperly restraining, force feeding, and more. Physical abuse is one of the most common types of nursing home abuse.
  • Sexual Abuse. Sexual abuse is defined as a sexual act carried out by one party against another that is not consensual. Inappropriate touching, forced sex or sexual activities, and the taking or showing of nude photographs are all acts of sexual abuse.
  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse. Sometimes, abuse is psychological or emotional. Threatening a nursing home resident, calling them names or engaging in other demeaning conduct, refusing to let a resident see family members or participate in social activities, etc. are all examples of emotional/psychological abuse.
  • Financial exploitation. Nursing home residents are very vulnerable, and some staff members may try to take advantage of nursing home residents financially by convincing them to change their wills or other estate planning documents, make large withdrawals or purchases, open new credit cards or take out loans, and other acts that benefit nursing home staff members.

Nursing Home Neglect – What’s the Difference?

As opposed to nursing home abuse, which involves an intent to cause harm or the fear of harm, neglect is often unintentional, and may occur as a result of improper training of a nursing home staff member, an improper staff-to-patient ratio, or the unintentional failure to exercise the proper degree of care that is required when working with nursing home residents. For example, neglect might include:

  • Failing to care for and move a nursing home resident confined to their bed, resulting in bedsores;
  • Failing to check on a nursing home resident often enough, resulting in bladder and bowel control issues;
  • Failing to ensure a resident is getting enough water and nutrients;
  • Failing to administer a patient’s medication; and
  • More.

Keep in mind that failing to provide a resident with social interaction and other mentally stimulating experiences is also considered neglectful.

What to Do if Neglect or Abuse Is Taking Place

While neglect and abuse are different, they are both entirely unacceptable, and may even be illegal in some cases. If you are the loved one of a nursing home resident whom you believe is a victim of nursing home abuse, you should report the abuse to the nursing home manager immediately and file a complaint with the state of Massachusetts. If the resident has suffered harm or/and the abuse or neglect continues, do not hesitate to contact an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer who can aid you in bringing forth a civil action to recoup damages for losses.

At the office of Tetzel Law, LLC, attorney Paul Tetzel is passionate about protecting elderly persons in our state. Call Tetzel Law, LLC today at (617) 933-3858 for a free consultation, or tell us more about your case using the intake form on our website.