Wheaton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Deciding to place a parent or a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision, and the worry of abuse makes that choice harder. Although people often assume that more expensive homes are better, abuse can happen in any facility. It only takes one irresponsible caregiver to negatively impact an elderly loved one’s quality of life. If you suspect that a loved one or any elder is being abused in a nursing home, you must know what to watch for and how to respond.
Signs Of Elder Abuse
Physical abuse, financial abuse and neglect are the three main forms of elder abuse. Physical abuse may include sexual assault in some cases. These are signs of physical abuse:
- Frequent skin tears
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Irritable mood
- Personality changes
- Frequent crying
- Burn marks
Some caregivers financially abuse elders by exploiting their graciousness. A caregiver may convince an elderly person with dementia that he or she is the person’s family member to obtain money. It is important to monitor an elderly loved one’s finances and assets to ensure that financial abuse does not happen. Elderly people who do not have trusted family members to monitor their finances and assets should hire an attorney to do so.
Neglect happens when caregivers do not meet the needs of elderly residents. Since many nursing homes are understaffed, neglect is a big risk. If you are thinking of placing a loved one in a home, tour the facility first to ensure that it is not understaffed. These are some signs of neglect in an elder:
- Frequent body odor
- Rapid weight loss
Difficulties With Identifying Abuse
Unfortunately, many elders are unable to voice their concerns if they cannot communicate due to dementia, stroke or another ailment. Some elders who can communicate will not talk about abuse because they feel ashamed. Mood swings and frequent crying may be signs of depression, which is common among elderly individuals. It may be hard to tell the difference between depression-related symptoms and the effects of abuse. Also, older people may get skin tears or may bruise easily because of certain medications. In such cases, it is hard to determine if there was abuse based only on observation.
How To Identify Abuse
Since abuse can be hard to pinpoint, it often goes on for long periods of time before it is discovered. Many people are afraid to make accusations against nursing home staff without substantial proof to support a claim, and they may fear retaliation in some instances. The best way to find out if abuse is happening is to contact a nursing home abuse attorney.
In 1988, Illinois implemented the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act. It protects older adults who depend on others for care from multiple types of abuse and neglect. Our nursing home abuse attorneys know how to have abuse concerns discreetly investigated by contacting the appropriate local agencies. When abuse is confirmed, judges have liberal discretion to order additional investigations or other actions to find more details. While the investigation is happening, the judge ensures that the suspected abuse victim is protected. Our attorneys help abused elders seek compensation for their injuries.
Why Everyone Must Report Elder Abuse
If you see an elderly person being abused in a nursing home, it is important to report the incident whether the individual is a family member or a stranger. Reporting abuse is the first step toward stopping it, and the ensuing investigations often uncover more than what appears on the surface. An abusive caregiver may be abusing many elderly residents within the facility, and the individual may be abusing others if he or she has a second job. In addition to stopping the suffering of an abused elder, you are preventing the anguish of others by reporting abuse. Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys know how to handle every type of situation with discretion, care and compassion. Please contact Zayed Law Offices for a free and confidential consultation.
Nursing home abuse is a growing problem in Illinois. In 2016, Illinois Adult Protective Services received 15,924 reports of abuse. Of that amount, 2,992 reports concerned disabled adults under the age of 60. The remaining reports pertained to elderly people who lived in their homes or in nursing homes. Twenty percent of the victims were over the age of 85, and more than 50 percent of them were unable to care for themselves because of mental or physical limitations.
Caregivers may slap, kick or push residents when they are frustrated with them. Although most nursing homes are good about hiring patient people who have experience working with the elderly, some individuals are not emotionally mature enough to control their frustration and anger. In extreme cases of physical abuse, a caregiver may fracture or break an elderly person’s fragile bones. They may inflict burns or lacerations. Sexual assault is also a problem, and women are more commonly targeted for this form of abuse.
Making cruel or disparaging statements about an elderly person’s appearance or abilities is unacceptable. Caregivers may psychologically abuse elderly nursing home residents by calling them names or verbally humiliating them for episodes of incontinence and other bodily functions that they cannot control. Lying to elders to cause emotional distress is also abuse. For example, telling elderly people that family members will never come see them if they do not cooperate is abuse.
Anyone from a nursing home administrator to a personal caregiver may try to financially exploit an older person. According to the 2016 APS Annual Report, financial exploitation was the most common form of elder abuse in Illinois. There were over 8,000 incidents. People may lie to elderly individuals about care costs. From setting up fake paid services to pretending to be a confused elder’s family member, there are many forms of financial exploitation in nursing homes.
Neglect may be unintentional or intentional. In some instances, nursing home residents have been shut in their rooms on purpose because they display unpleasant behaviors. It is not acceptable to confine them. Caregivers may forget to take residents to the bathroom regularly. They may not offer water, and they may not help the individuals with proper oral hygiene. Forgetting medications can cause serious health problems, and not helping an immobile elder move frequently can lead to bedsores.
Signs Of Abuse
Dementia, certain medications, depression and anxiety can cause symptoms that are similar to some signs of abuse. Although the existence of one or more signs may not verify abuse, families should watch their loved ones and report suspected abuse. These are some signs of abuse:
- Perpetual weight loss
- Poor hygiene and foul body odor
- Lacerations and bruises
- Frequent agitation
- Frequent crying and mood swings
- Fear of a specific person
- Social withdrawal
- Pressure sores
- Dehydration or malnutrition
Financial exploitation may be harder to detect unless an elder allows family members to review accounting information. If the individual will not allow this, families can suggest using an attorney or a reputable accountant to manage assets and track finances. Would-be financial abusers may be less likely to target an elderly person for a major exploitation attempt if they know that the person does not have full control over individual finances.
When To Contact An Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If there is suspected abuse or if abuse is witnessed, contact Zayed Law Offices. Our attorneys are familiar with state and federal laws that protect elders. They are protected in any home by the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act of 1988, and facilities that participate in Medicare services are subject to strict federal laws about various forms of abuse. Elderly people have the right to safety, equal access to care, confidentiality, guest visits and fulfillment of their needs. Our attorneys work with investigative agencies to see if facilities violate these rights. Elders are protected during investigations, and abusers are removed. We also help victims seek compensation for damages. Call us for a confidential consultation.