Nursing Home Abuse FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions: Elder Abuse, Neglect & Negligence

If you have questions about nursing home abuse or any related topic, such as elder neglect, negligence, financial abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse, we can help. We have included answers to some of your common questions about nursing home abuse and negligence, in clear and easy to understand terms. If you don't see your question here, you are welcome to visit our Nursing Home Abuse Information Center to learn more – or you can use our directory to find a local nursing home abuse attorney who can address your specific and immediate needs.

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse may be defined as any form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse of an elderly person. Financial exploitation may also be considered a form of elder abuse.

What is nursing home negligence?

Nursing home negligence is described as a nursing home's failure to provide proper treatment or care to an elderly resident or patient. Negligence is often differentiated from abuse because it involves unintentional or careless acts as opposed to intentionally causing harm. Some examples of nursing home negligence may include poor supervision, inadequate medical care or a failure to provide adequate food and water.

What are some of the signs of abuse or mistreatment in a nursing home?

There are physical and psychological signs to be on the lookout for in regard to nursing home abuse and neglect. These may include withdrawal, depression, anxiety, unexplained or recurring injuries, prolonged and unexplained illness, sexually transmitted diseases and sudden or unexplained financial transactions. Keeping an eye out for these signs can help you stop nursing home abuse before it's too late.

What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse?

There are various resources available to you if you suspect that nursing home abuse is affecting someone you love. If they are in immediate danger, it is important to call 911 for emergency assistance. In other cases, you can visit www.eldercare.gov or call Eldercare Locater at (800) 677-1116 for local resources pertaining to elder abuse and neglect. You may also find it helpful to involve a lawyer who is familiar with nursing home abuse claims and lawsuits.

How can an attorney help me?

A skilled nursing home abuse attorney will know the precise steps you can take to: protect your loved one's safety, remove them from the nursing home (if needed), report the incident to the proper authorities and take legal action to bring the responsible party or parties to justice. Altogether, this can not only help you stop the abuse or mistreatment from continuing to occur but can help your elderly loved one face a better and brighter future.

What are some of the criminal penalties associated with elder abuse and nursing home abuse?

Every state will have its own criminal offenses and penalties that may be associated with elder abuse and criminal negligence. An offender may face fines, imprisonment, probation and community service and may lose any professional licenses held or may be restricted from working with the elderly in the future.

What civil court remedies are available to those who have suffered from nursing home negligence or abuse?

In addition to facing criminal charges and penalties, a perpetrator of nursing home abuse or negligence may be held accountable in civil court. Civil court proceedings involve financial penalties enforced on the at-fault party, as opposed to criminal penalties such as incarceration. The perpetrator may be held accountable for any and all financial damages caused by his or her conduct, such as medical bills, continued medical care, emotional trauma and pain and suffering. Because every case is different, an attorney can provide helpful insight regarding to the legal action you can take in your particular case.

Can a family member, in-home caregiver or other party be held accountable for elder abuse, even if it does not occur in a nursing home?

Elder abuse in any situation or environment may have both criminal and civil ramifications for the perpetrator. Whether your loved one's abuse occurred at a nursing home or you have discovered that a family member is committing elder abuse, they may be subjected to criminal charges and you may be able to take civil action against them to bring them to justice.

Why are the elderly more prone to abuse or negligence?

There are a few key issues that make elderly persons more susceptible to abuse and neglect. Physical frailty is one factor to consider, as is mental impairment caused by conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Additionally, an elderly person may be somewhat isolated from continued contact with family members and friends, leading to prolonged abuse or mistreatment.

What are some factors that may contribute to the presence of abuse or neglect at a nursing home?

Negligent hiring standards (hiring personnel with histories of abuse or violence), budget cutbacks, inadequate training and understaffing may all contribute to the occurrence of abuse or negligence in a nursing home. Another factor to consider is the reluctance of most victims to come forward when abused.

Interested in learning more? Find a qualified lawyer.

If you still have questions or have a specific legal issue you would like addressed, you can use our free online directory to compare local lawyers who have the qualifications to assist you with your case.

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