Many families in Illinois and nationwide rely on nursing homes to care for loved ones who can no longer live independently due to old age. Unfortunately, elder abuse in nursing homes is a widespread problem in the United States. These facilities can expose the most vulnerable community members to potential abuse and neglect. Elder abuse can take many forms, and the physical and mental effects can be devastating.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60 or older has experienced some form of elder abuse. However, recent studies estimate that only one in 24 cases of abuse is reported to authorities. Senior citizens who reside in nursing homes may be isolated or afraid to seek help. Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize the nursing home red flag signs that may indicate there is abuse to get your loved one help if they need it.
What Are the Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), abuse of older adults often falls under one of the five following categories:
- Physical abuse – Physical abuse includes physical acts of violence, such as hitting or kicking, and excessive use of physical means to restrain an elder.
- Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse comprises non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, including unwanted touching, sexual harassment, and sexual assault and battery.
- Emotional or psychological abuse – Emotional abuse can be inflicted through verbal and nonverbal acts, including isolation, threats, and intimidation.
- Financial abuse – This can include stealing an older adult’s money or possessions or coercing them into signing over their funds to the abuser.
- Neglect – Neglect occurs when a caretaker refuses or fails to perform their duties, such as feeding, bathing, or comforting an elder in their care.
What Are the Signs of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Being familiar with the red flag signs of elder abuse is essential, particularly because abuse victims are often afraid to speak up. The most common signs include the following:
- Unexplained injuries, bruises, cuts, or sores
- Broken bones
- Pressure marks
- Unusual weight loss
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities
- Unusual depression
- Noteworthy changes in behavior or sleep
- Increased fear or anxiety
- Unusual or sudden changes in spending patterns or financial losses
- Unpaid bills
- Fraudulent signatures on financial documents
- Poor hygiene
- Unattended medical needs
Why Don’t Elders Report Nursing Home Abuse
Due to the traumatic and painful nature of elder abuse, many of these assaults and patterns of abuse go unreported. A few of the main reasons for this are:
- Fear of retaliation from the abuser, caregivers, or institutions
- Dependency on the abuser
- Fear of not being believed
- Familial relationship with the abuser
What Are the Risk Factors for Elder Abuse
Studies show that specific risk factors place some elders at higher risk of abuse and neglect. Those factors include the following:
- Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Limitations in physical or cognitive functioning
- Difficulty communicating
- Specific behavioral symptoms, such as physical aggressiveness
- Isolation or lack of social support
How To Report Nursing Home Abuse in Chicago
Several entities in Illinois will accept and investigate a report of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a nursing home resident. If you’ve found red flags signs want to report abuse of a loved one in a nursing home, you can contact the following agencies:
- The regional ombudsman located in the region or county of the nursing home
- The Senior HelpLine
- The state Department of Public Health
- The Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, if financial abuse is suspected
What Compensation Is Available in a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
If your loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home, you and your family could be entitled to compensation for the financial and personal losses you incur as a result of the abuse. You could be eligible to seek money for the following:
- Medical costs, including hospital stays, doctor’s visits, surgeries, physical therapy, and medication related to treating injuries from the abuse or neglect
- Out-of-pocket expenses, such as mileage for travel to medical appointments
- The physical pain and emotional suffering of the loved one who was abused or neglected
Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers Can Take Your Nursing Abuse Case
At Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, we understand how difficult it can be to pursue compensation and justice after a loved one is abused or neglected in a nursing home. We can use our considerable experience, resources, and skills to advocate for your rights and seek the financial relief you and your family deserve. Our attorneys offer compassionate, client-centered services with a track record of success. Call us today at 312-346-8620 or contact us online to speak confidentially with our nursing home abuse attorneys.