Nursing home neglect happens more often than you think. An estimated 5 million adults 65 and older are abused and neglected each year in the U.S. Neglect is an form of elder abuse committed against an older adult in a nursing home that breaches the duty that may harm a resident.
You’re more than likely going to experience a family member or someone you know being in a long-term care facility. Nearly 1.5 million people live in a nursing home in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When someone else is taking care of your loved one, it’s important to do research on the facility you ultimately choose.
Illinois has one of the highest rates of nursing home abuse in the nation. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for when suspecting abuse and know how to report a case.
Anyone can commit elder abuse; in fact, in almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member and two thirds are adult children or spouses according to the National Council of Aging (NCOA). However, perpetrators are not limited to just family members and may include caretakers or other residents.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse or neglect “refers to the mistreatment of a person 60 years of age or older who lives in the community,” according to the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).
IDHS states abuse and neglect includes any of the following:
- Abuse – physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment and/or willful confinement.
- Neglect – the failure of a caregiver to provide the older person with the necessities of life, including but not limited to food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.
- Financial exploitation – the misuse or withholding of the older person’s resources by another to the disadvantage of the older person and/or the profit of another.
What makes an older adult vulnerable to abuse?
Older adults who are in nursing homes are socially isolated and those who have mental impairments such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease makes them more susceptible to being abused or neglected. Studies have shown that those with dementia have experienced a form of abuse or neglect.
Most common types of abuse:
According to the Illinois Department of Aging (IDOA) victims often experience more than one form of abuse. 67 percent of victims are female, while 33 percent are male; however, 51% of abusers are females, while 49% of abusers are male.
Based on the 2017 annual report, the most common forms of abuse in Illinois were:
- Financial exploitation, (8,604)
- Emotional abuse (6,476)
- Passive neglect (6,679)
- Physical abuse (3,782)
- Willful deprivation (2,268)
- Confinement (1,381)
- Sexual abuse (765)
What to do if you suspect abuse:
If you suspect your loved one is experiencing abuse in their nursing home, talk to the staff immediately. If the problem isn’t resolved, you can talk to one of the following:
- Call 911, especially if they are in life threatening danger
- Social worker
- Director of nursing
Families should document signs of nursing home abuse and indicate any change in their loved ones behavior, take pictures of the injuries and note if injuries worsen, and write or record any witnesses that has seen the abuse or from the victim themself.
How to report nursing home abuse:
There are several ways you can report nursing home abuse. In case of emergencies, please dial 911. You can also contact:
- Long-term care ombudsman
- You can find your local ombudsman here.
- Professional medical experts like doctors or nurses
- Nursing home administrator
To confidentially report abuse:
A 2019 report by GAO states, “nursing home abuse often goes unreported mainly because residents are afraid of what will happen if they speak out.” Residents fear that staff may treat them worse, or abuse will continue and worsen.
A nursing home report can often remain confidential when complaints are filed with a long-term care ombudsman, unless consent is given otherwise. Confidentiality eases the concern of addressing a problem.
File a Lawsuit
If you suspect your family member or loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s important to take legal action right away to protect their rights. In Illinois, the statute of limitations limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit which is 2 years from the injury date.
Throughout the litigation process, the attorney’s at Dinizulu Law Group collect evidence to build your case against the nursing home and staff and inform you of the steps we take along the way. Please call our firm today for a free consultation at (312) 384-1920 to learn how you can obtain justice for your loved one.