Around one in ten adults over the age of 60 have experienced at least one form of elder abuse or mistreatment. Even worse, only one in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities — and the effects of abuse and neglect can be devastating. In fact, victims of elder mistreatment have a 300 percent higher risk of death than those who have not been mistreated.
One environment in which elder abuse often goes unnoticed is nursing homes. While most nursing homes provide residents with a safe and healthy living environment, they can also create unbalanced power dynamics between residents and employees, and isolate residents from friends and family. If you suspect mistreatment of a loved one in a nursing home, here are four steps you can take to help.
The first step in stopping nursing home neglect or abuse is being present to see warning signs. Visiting your loved ones in a nursing home regularly allows you to notice unexplained changes in behavior, changes in physical health, troubling interactions between employees and residents, and cleanliness of living spaces.
Listen and Observe
If you notice any warning signs of abuse or neglect, you should ask your loved one for clarification on what you saw. However, also keep in mind that he may not want to admit to being mistreated. He may fear retribution, not want to get an employee in trouble, and/or feel that admitting to mistreatment would show weakness. Whether the resident confirms the mistreatment or not, start documenting relevant information in detail. Include the location, date, time and people involved, and the names of other staff members who may have witnessed the incident as well.
Most cases of elder abuse go unreported. Don’t let fear of being wrong keep you from reporting your suspicions to the authorities. Even if your suspicions are incorrect, you will not be legally liable if you made your report in good faith. In South Carolina, you can report nursing home negligence to the National Center on Elder Abuse. For elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult in a community setting, call 888-227-3487. For elder mistreatment in long-term care facilities outside Richland County, call 800-868-9095. And for elder mistreatment in long-term care facilities within Richland County, call 803-734-9900. If you fear that a nursing home resident’s safety is in immediate danger, call 911 as soon as possible. You can also find county-specific information.
Seek Legal Representation
Once you’ve done all you can to get your loved one out of harm’s way, follow up with a nursing home negligence attorney, contacting him or her as soon as possible about your case. A lawyer will help you receive compensation for physical or emotional damages by finding an expert witness to testify for the victim, investigating standards of care for the nursing home and providing experienced legal expertise.
Hire a South Carolina Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home negligence, the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson can help. Schedule a free case evaluation online or call us at: