Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes

An Overview of Physical Elder Abuse

It is an unfortunate truth that the elderly may be vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment due to physical frailty. Those suffering from diminished mental capabilities may be particularly vulnerable. Physical abuse in nursing homes may go unnoticed and unreported until it is too late and an elderly patient is seriously injured or even loses his or her life. As such, it is important to be aware of the types and signs of physical elder abuse as well as your legal rights in these situations. Having this knowledge can help you take the right steps to stop physical abuse in its tracks and hold the responsible parties accountable for their conduct.

Types of Physical Elder Abuse
Physical elder abuse may take on many forms. Some examples include shoving, hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, burning and beating. It may also include the use of improper restraints on an elderly person. Virtually any physical act that causes or may cause harm may be considered physical abuse, from shoving an elderly patient to burning him or her with a cigarette.

Signs of Physical Abuse
As a family member of an elderly loved one who is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is important to be aware of the signs of physical abuse. Patterns of bruises or injuries may indicate abuse, particularly in concentrated areas such as on the neck. Burns, rope marks and black eyes or other injuries that are not typically sustained in an accident such as a fall may also indicate abuse. Some other signs include depression, unexplained injuries or recurring injuries.

Consequences of Physical Abuse
The specific consequences of physical elder abuse will vary depending on the type and severity of abuse. Some forms of physical abuse are quite disturbing and may cause serious harm, such as strangulation or beating. In other cases, physical abuse may only cause minor bruises or may leave no visible marks but will have a lasting psychological impact on the victim.

Stopping Physical Abuse: What You Can Do

If you've recognized the signs of physical abuse in a nursing home, you may be left with numerous questions. Who should you report the incident to? Do you have the right to sue the nursing home? What can you do to protect your loved one's safety? The nursing home should have a policy, in writing, regarding the steps you can take if you believe abuse or mistreatment of any kind is occurring. You can report the incident to your local Adult Protective Services agency, and you also have the right to report serious physical abuse to local law enforcement by calling 911 if you believe your loved one is in imminent danger. A lawyer may also prove an invaluable source of information and legal guidance.

Take the right steps in the face of physical elder abuse – find a nursing home abuse attorneynear you.