Neglect and abuse of the elderly in nursing homes is far more common than anyone would like to believe. According to interviews of 2,000 Georgia nursing home residents conducted by the Atlanta Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, almost half (44 percent) said they had been abused in a nursing home. Nearly all (95 percent) said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected.
The numbers are not surprising to attorneys who handle cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. Issues such as understaffing has created an environment where abuse and neglect can go undetected. Seniors may suffer years of physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse by other residents and by staff members. Many are hesitant to report their abuse, fearing retaliation.
Here are five signs that your loved one may be abused or neglected in a nursing home:
1. Unexplained bruises, abrasions, burns or other injuries
2. Depression or withdrawal from normal activities
3. Fearfulness around nursing home staff
4. Bedsores, poor hygiene, weight loss or dehydration
5. Unexplained credit card charges or bank withdrawals
Nursing home staff may pass off signs of physical and emotional decline in a nursing home as the inevitable effects of aging. However, it may also be a sign of neglect or abuse. You can report suspected elder mistreatment in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities in Georgia by calling 1-800-878-6442 (404-657-5728 in the Metro-Atlanta area). You can file a complaint against a licensed facility at the Georgia Department of Community Health website.
You may also have legal options. Your loved one may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the nursing home. The law firm of Isenberg & Hewitt, PC handles cases of nursing home neglect and abuse in the Atlanta Metro area.