Nursing home abuse toward the elderly is a substantial problem in the U.S. that is usually hidden in the shadows. About 2 million cases of elderly abuse are reported every year, and that pans out to about one out of every 10 seniors who will be affected by some sort of abuse. A personal injury lawyer can help you find a proper and ideal solution if you believe somebody you know is experiencing some form of nursing home abuse.
At The Edwards Law Firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma, our personal injury lawyers can help you navigate the $3.4 billion dollar nursing home industry and help you determine if you or your loved one is entitled to compensation for the damages they have endured — including any medical treatments and pain and suffering. Get a free case evaluation today!
So, how do you know what to look for if you believe someone you love is being neglected or abused? If you do find signs of abuse, how do you report it? In this blog, we explain how to report nursing home abuse in Oklahoma.
What To Look For: Signs of Abuse
Elderly abuse includes an umbrella of abuse types, such as neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse or general mistreatment. Some of the signs of abuse are obvious while others might just be subtle, and it can be hard to prove abuse since most elderly people in nursing home care are already in poor health.
Regardless, we encourage you to speak up, whether you’re a family member, friend, neighbor or passerby, and reach out to our personal injury lawyer to explore your options. Most elders in this position either can’t speak up for themselves or are generally afraid to.
Here is the break down of common signs for each of the categories of abuse we explained above.
Signs of Neglect
Neglect is usually an intentional act; however, sometimes the employees of nursing home facilities are overburdened and overworked, so some seniors might slip under their radar. To see if a nursing home senior is experiencing neglect, look for the following signs:
- Unexplained weight loss
- A messy living area
- Bed sores
- Dirty clothes or bedding
- Poor personal hygiene
Signs of Physical Abuse
Though this type of abuse isn’t as common as neglect, it’s still a type of abuse that can happen in nursing home facilities. Elders who experience an injury from abuse have a 300 percent higher risk of death. Here are some signs to look for in regards to physical abuse:
- Unexplained bruises, welts or black eyes
- Unexplained head, neck or back injuries
- Chronic pain or soreness
- Internal injuries or bleeding
- Being undermedicated or overmedicated
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse toward the elderly is, unfortunately, a lot more common than you might think. About 70 percent of this reported abuse occurs in nursing homes, and the abuser is the elder’s primary caregiver 81 percent of the time. Elder sexual abuse includes unwanted touching, sexual assault or battery, rape, forced nudity and sexual photography. Here are some signs of sexual abuse toward elders:
- Difficulty in walking or sitting
- Signs of depression, withdrawal or anxiety
- Bruises or unexplained marks in genital areas, thighs or breasts
- Unexplained symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections
Signs of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse among elders in nursing homes is probably the most common form of abuse, but it’s also the most underreported type of abuse. Elder victims of emotional abuse might show signs of fearfulness, anxiety, depression or anger. Here are some examples of verbal emotional abuse:
- Yelling, shouting or screaming
- Insulting, name-calling or making fun of the senior
- Scapegoating or blaming the senior
- Threatening to harm the senior
Some signs of nonverbal emotional abuse include the following:
- Ignoring the senior
- Isolation of the senior
- Restricting access to food, water, the bathroom or other patients
- Taking away or hiding the senior’s personal belongings
Signs of Financial Abuse
Seniors in nursing homes are often exploited financially, whether they get caught in a scam artist situation or are taken advantage of by a caregiver. Some signs of financial abuse toward a senior include the following:
- Missing cash, checks or valuables
- Inexplicable changes to the senior’s bank account or last will and testament
- Unpaid bills
Who To Report To
Now that you know what to look for if you believe a senior you know has been experiencing abuse in a nursing home facility, who do you report to? We suggest first bringing the issue to the attention of the nursing home facility, but if that doesn’t prove effective, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health with your complaints. Be as specific and thorough as possible.
More general contacts include Eldercare Locator, which is where you can get more information on the state’s laws and regulations. Their number is (800) 677-1116. The National Center on Elder Abuse organization is another great resource to determine which authorities you can report the abuse to.
You can also contact a personal injury lawyer to help you seek compensation for the damages of the senior. Many times, these attorneys can help you collect your thoughts and see if you have a legitimate case, ultimately preventing the same thing from happening to future seniors in the same facility.
Who Can Sue A Nursing Home
In order to sue a nursing home, you must have a close or specific relationship with the abused elder at hand. Action for a lawsuit can be initiated by the elder themselves, their guardian, a representative of the senior if deceased, or a person/organization acting on the senior’s behalf with their pre-approved consent.
Unfortunately, many times elder abuse can tie into medical malpractice or wrongful death cases, which we practice at The Edwards Law Firm. Let us help you find the best compensation options for your nursing home abuse case.
Why You Should Report The Abuse
If an elder you know and love won’t report the abuse themselves, it’s important that you step up to the plate and act as their voice. Many statistics for elderly abuse in nursing homes are skewed and underreported, and this is an issue that continuously gets brushed under the rug.
Schedule A Free Case Evaluation Today
The Edwards Law Firm provides legal counsel for nursing home abuse issues in the Tulsa area and many surrounding communities. We work on a contingency-only basis, which means we only charge fees and services if we can find you a settlement or verdict for your case. Let us be your next personal injury lawyer!
For more information or to schedule your free case evaluation today, call us at (918) 221-0516 or at our toll-free number at (888) 600-9836 during business hours. You can also fill out our online form.