Buy a car? Need minimum liability required. Buy a house? Got to have a homeowners’ policy. Living and breathing? Government says you better have health coverage or else. So why does it seem then that those insurance companies that we hire and pay regular monthly premiums to continue to fight so hard against acting in [..]
Boca Raton Florida Nursing Home Abuse
The elderly members of our community should be able to enjoy their golden years. Many of us have older family members or friends in nursing homes, and we’d like to think that they’re getting the best possible care. Of course, some facilities in our state do have attentive staff and offer a high quality of life for their residents, but others are a different story altogether. Whether it’s due to budget shortages, understaffing, or negligent caretakers, there are far too many cases of nursing home abuse in Florida.
With its wonderful climate, Florida is a popular place for many older people to retire. Our state has 684 nursing homes and approximately 72,000 nursing home residents at any given time. These residents are valuable members of our community—parents, grandparents, and loved ones—and we need to take cases of nursing home abuse seriously.
How Big Is the Problem?
One study by the House Government Reform Committee found that 30% of all nursing homes in the US were cited for abuse or negligence between 1999 and 2001. Oftentimes instances of abuse, including bedsores, malnutrition, and inadequate medical care, stemmed from negligence on the part of the nursing home staff. Other cases involved actual physical abuse, such as a staff member hitting a resident or bribing one resident to attack another.
In 2010, a reported 9.5% of the elderly population was abused, and most of those cases were due to nursing home neglect. There’s no way to know how many more residents were harmed, but neglected to report the abuse because they were unable to do so, felt ashamed, or didn’t know where to turn.
Potential Causes of Nursing Home Abuse in Florida
When you find out that someone you love has been abused in a nursing home, you may find yourself struggling to figure out how this happened. There are a number of different factors that can lead to a case of abuse. These are a few of the most common in our state:
- Understaffing. Two thirds of all elder abuse cases stem from neglect, and neglect is often an issue when nursing homes are understaffed. When staff members are responsible for aiding a large number of residents on top of other everyday duties, they become spread thin and can’t necessarily spend a significant amount of time with each resident. This can lead to residents’ needs going unheard.
- Negligent hiring. Working in a nursing home is a huge responsibility—trustworthy staff members are needed to help older and potentially vulnerable residents. The hiring process should be especially stringent, but that’s not always the case. When unscrupulous staff members are hired, residents may be at risk for physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse.
- Insufficient training. In some cases, staff members may have the best interests of their residents in mind, but they may not have received the proper training to work with an elderly population. Their lack of experience may result in a medication error, a medical issue going undiscovered, or preventable accidents for residents.
- Third party abuse. Nursing home abuse isn’t always perpetrated by the staff—sometimes residents can be injured by the recklessness or negligence of another resident or even a guest. However, if this kind of abuse is caused by an oversight or a lack of security on the nursing home’s part, the facility may be found responsible.
Types of Florida Abuse Cases
With all the different potential causes of abuse in nursing home, it should be clear that there are also many different types of cases. These are the most common.
- Neglect. As stated above, the vast majority of nursing home abuse cases involve some form of neglect. Caretakers have a duty to their residents to provide the highest possible quality of care within their ability, including making sure residents are properly fed, bathed, clothed, sheltered, and protected from any potential hazards within the home. If they fail to provide this care, they may endanger their residents.
- Physical abuse. Incidences of physical abuse represent about 16% of all nursing home abuse cases. This can be anything from a staff member or resident hitting another resident to forcibly restraining or overmedicating a resident.
- Financial exploitation. Sadly, some people believe that elderly individuals are easy to exploit financially because they may get confused, have memory problems, or misplace their trust. Staff members or nursing home visitors may try to get elderly residents to sign documents to change their will or power of attorney, or someone with spending power may misappropriate a resident’s money.
- Emotional abuse. This form of abuse is often hard to identify. It may involve threats, hurtful remarks, or even isolation from other residents. Elderly residents suffering from emotional abuse may become withdrawn, depressed, or anxious.
- Sexual abuse. Although less common than other forms of abuse, this is still a problem in our nursing homes. Residents may be too weak or ill to ward off unwanted sexual contact from staff members, other residents, visitors, or family members.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Instances of nursing home abuse are not always caught by family members, often because they can only visit the facility every so often or because their elderly relative is unwilling or unable to tell them about the abuse. If one of your loved ones is in a nursing home, you should be particularly attentive to them when you visit and look for tell-tale signs of abuse. Some signs might include:
- Physical injuries, such as bruises or cuts
- Emotionally distant behavior or unwillingness to talk
- Unwillingness to talk to caretakers
- Complaints of physical discomfort
- Unexplained financial difficulties
- Unexplained infections or diseases
- Sudden change in will or power of attorney
- Symptoms of depression or anxiety
- Sudden mood swings
If you believe that you or someone you love is suffering from nursing home abuse, it’s important that you seek help so that the abuse doesn’t continue. Nursing home abuse can have long-term physical and psychological consequences, and anyone who suffers from this abuse should not only be able to stop the guilty party from continuing their harmful behavior, they should be able to receive the monetary compensation they deserve to get their life back on track.
Only an experienced Florida nursing home abuse attorney can navigate the often complicated and emotionally charged area of elder abuse cases in order to get the best possible outcome for their clients. Schedule a free consultation with The Injury Law Firm of South Floridain order to see what our law firm can do for you and your family. If you decide to work with us, you won’t have to pay us until we recover damages, so you have nothing to lose. You can reach us 24/7 by filling out our online form or by calling us at 954-764-7377 in Fort Lauderdale, 561-209-2100 in Boca Raton/West Palm Beach, or toll-free at 877-566-8759.