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The Many Faces of Illinois Nursing Home Abuse

Statistics are thrown around repeatedly about the prevalence of nursing home abuse: how often it occurs, where it occurs, and who it affects. The main take away from those stats is clear: mistreatment of the elderly remains far too common.

Every once in awhile it is important to step back and remember the different facets of that mistreatment. Nursing home abuse or neglect can take many forms. Below are several categories of abuse and signs of these types of abuse:

Neglect. Elder neglect is the failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation. Withholding food and necessary medical treatment are examples of elder neglect. According to the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS), gross neglect constitutes 14% of nursing home abuse complaints. Signs of gross neglect may manifest as physical injuries and include unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, unsanitary or unsafe living conditions, untreated physical problems, and being left dirty or unbathed.

Physical abuse. Physical abuse is the intentional use of force resulting in physical injury or pain. Shoving, hitting, and inappropriate uses of restraints are examples of physical abuse. NORS data shows that 29% of nursing home abuse complaints involve physical abuse. Signs of physical abuse include unexplained marks and bruising, broken eyeglasses, report of drug overdose or failure to take medication, bedsores, broken bones, marks from restraints, sudden weight loss, and dehydration or malnutrition.

Emotional abuse. Emotional abuse occurs when nursing home staff speaks to or treats elderly patients in a way that causes psychological pain or distress. Threats, humiliation, habitual blaming, and isolating an elderly person are some examples of emotional abuse. Psychological abuse comprises 21% of nursing home abuse complaints according to NORS data. In addition to personally witnessing verbal emotional abuse, emotional abuse may be present when an elder is fearful around certain people, is visibly depressed or angry, or exhibits symptoms similar to dementia, such as rocking back and forth and mumbling.

Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is non-consensual contact of a sexual nature with an elderly person. Unwanted physical sex acts are an example of sexual abuse, but elder sexual abuse may also include showing an elderly person pornography, or forcing the elder to undress. According to NORS data 7% of nursing home abuse claims involve sexual abuse. Some signs of sexual abuse include bruising around the breasts or genitals, torn, stained or bloody underwear, unexplained sexually transmitted infections, and unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding.

Financial fraud and exploitation. Financial exploitation occurs when there is an unauthorized use of an elderly person’s assets. This can include forging checks, identify theft, and stealing cash. Financial exploitation is the basis for 7% of nursing home abuse claims according to the NORS data. Signs of financial abuse can include new loans or mortgages, revisions to wills, deeds or trusts, and unusual recent withdrawals from banking accounts.

Healthcare fraud and abuse. Healthcare fraud is a growing concern as the cost of healthcare skyrockets. Unethical practices carried out by medical and professional care providers can result in serious physical and financial injury. Some practices include failing to provide health-care that’s been charged, overcharging, receiving kickbacks, over-medicating or under-medicating, medicaid fraud, and recommending improper medical treatment.

If you suspect that a loved one may have suffered any of these, please contact our Illinois elder neglect attorney today to learn how we can help ensure accountability.

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