Experienced Attorneys Serving Families of Nursing Home Abuse Victims Throughout Tampa
The prevalence of abuse in nursing homes is one of the most disturbing and tragic trends to emerge in recent memory. With roughly half of all nursing homes admitting to abuse occurring within their walls, and with two out of every five nursing home residents reporting either experiencing or witnessing abuse, this is a problem that cannot be ignored.
The first step toward stopping nursing home abuse is knowing when to seek help. Despite the prevalence of abuse, for many nursing home residents and their loved ones, this is not as easy as it sounds. Many residents mistakenly believe that abusive treatment is “normal,” and in some situations, abusive staff members have been known to threaten residents with further abuse if they talk to their family members about what is going on.
As a result, if you live in a nursing home, are preparing to move to a nursing home, or have a loved one under nursing home care, it is critical to know the warning signs of abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of Abusive Treatment in Nursing Homes
If you or a loved one experiences any of the following in a Florida nursing home, you should seek medical and legal help right away. These are all potential signs of nursing home abuse:
1. Unexplained Injuries
Unexplained injuries are among the most common signs of nursing home abuse. This includes broken bones, bruises, cuts, and welts. Such injuries may be the result of improper restraints, physical or sexual abuse, or failure to provide adequate monitoring and assistance to residents who have difficulty moving about on their own. While our bodies become more fragile in old age, this is not an excuse for suffering a physical injury in a nursing home. Nursing homes take upon themselves the responsibility to protect their residents from this type of harm.
2. Bed Sores
Bed sores, or pressure ulcers, are common nursing home injuries that are generally indicative of either neglect or abuse. Bed sores result from lack of mobility. Constant pressure on sensitive parts of the body (such as the shoulders, hips, heels, buttocks, and back of the head) can cause the skin and underlying tissue to break down, resulting in painful injuries that get progressively worse over time. Reddened skin that does not turn white when pressed lightly with a finger is typically the first sign of a bed sore.
3. Frequent Infections
A high rate of infections can be a sign of nursing home abuse as well. Infections result from the presence of harmful bacteria, viruses, and other unwanted pathogens. If a nursing home resident is not receiving proper care, hygiene, and nutrition, his or her body will become more susceptible to infection.
4. Symptoms of Malnutrition
Withholding meals or abandoning residents who are unable to feed themselves is an all-too-common form of nursing home abuse. Malnutrition can put elderly residents at greater risk for other conditions as well, and as a result should be addressed at the first sign of a potential problem. Early symptoms of malnutrition include:
- Delayed healing from wounds
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty keeping warm
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Frequent infections and delayed recovery from infections
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
5. Symptoms of Dehydration
Dehydration is another common sign of nursing home abuse, for the same reasons as malnutrition. Also like malnutrition, dehydration can present significant health concerns, particularly for older adults. If you or your elderly loved one is exhibiting the following symptoms of dehydration, you should seek medical attention right away:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Extreme thirst
- Fewer trips to the bathroom
- Sunken eyes
6. Sudden Changes in Mood (Mood Swings)
Sudden changes in mood (mood swings) may be indicative of anxiety or depression, both of which are commonly associated with abuse in the nursing home setting. Nursing home residents who are typically jovial or free-spirited may become quiet or irritable, and those who are generally happy may suddenly become angry or temperamental.
7. Leftover (or Missing) Medications
Similar to withholding food and liquids, withholding medications is another form of nursing home abuse. Nursing home residents and their loved ones should document their daily medication regimens, and any leftover pills or doses of liquid medication should be viewed as a potentially serious issue.
Missing medications can be a sign of abuse as well. If a nursing home resident’s medications disappear ahead of schedule without explanation, this could be a sign of either theft or overdose by nursing home staff.
8. Declining Hygiene or Unsanitary Conditions
With respect to nursing home residents who are not able to fully provide for their own needs, declining hygiene and unsanitary living conditions will often be reflective of inadequate or abusive care.
Reclusiveness can be a sign of nursing home abuse, either as a symptom of depression or as a result of fear imparted by abusive staff members. If an elderly loved one who lives in a nursing home is unwilling to discuss his or her care or interactions with staff members, this may suggest that he or she is a victim of abuse.
10. Unusual Purchases or Financial Decisions
Along with physical and sexual abuse, financial abuse is a prevalent issue in Florida nursing homes as well. Common forms of financial abuse in nursing homes include:
- Convincing residents to give “gifts” or make purchases online
- Convincing residents to modify their estate plans
- Forging residents’ checks
- Stealing cash from residents’ rooms
- Using nursing home residents’ credit cards
Regardless of the circumstances, abusers generally do not stop voluntarily. Protecting yourself or your loved one will require action, and it is important that you take action as soon as possible. Abrahamson & Uiterwyk is available 24/7, and we can act quickly to investigate your situation and help put an end to the abuse.
Contact the Tampa, FL Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk
If you need help, we urge you to contact us right away. We offer free consultations, and there is no obligation when you meet with a member of our team to discuss your case. To schedule a time to discuss your situation in confidence, call (800) 753-5203 or contact us online now.