Speaking Up: Spreading Awareness About The Nursing Home Abuse Epidemic

Abuse Epidemic
Abuse Epidemic

You’ve heard about it. In some way, at some point, this issue has crossed your path. You’ve seen billboards offering help, social media posts of families sharing their stories, or maybe, you’ve had your own personal experiences. You’ve seen the damage of this lesser-known epidemic.

Nursing home abuse is a widespread issue that has been under-reported and under the radar for years.

There are many wounds, and awareness is where we begin to heal them.

The Picture

Families experience a lot of stress and guilt when selecting a nursing home. When the mental capabilities and cognitive functions of an elderly person begin to deteriorate, the family is no longer able to properly care for their loved one. Their next best option is to select a nursing facility.

There are many challenges that come with this process. The family needs to choose a facility in a good location, with the amenities and care services that fit the needs of their loved one. Budgets need to be readjusted, and lifestyles have to be shifted for visitation, doctor’s visits, and off-site outings.

Placing a family member in a nursing home is a harrowing task on its own, and the fear of a loved one experiencing neglect or abuse adds additional strife.

The unknown can be unnerving. You’re unsure of what questions to ask; what steps to take in order to prevent hurt or harm from being inflicted on your family.

We’re in a wasteland; undereducated and unaware of the struggles our loved ones face; and what we can do about them.

The Problem

Ignorance, however unintentional, is the reason behind the lack of preventative action being taken against nursing home abuse.

You need to know the signs, and in the unfortunate event that you encounter a case of neglect or mistreatment, you need to know what steps you can take to hold the care facility accountable.

Nursing home abuse is classified as anything that causes mental, physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional harm toward a patient. There are a few ways to spot if your loved one is experiencing any kind of this abuse.

If you notice that your family member seems depressed, mentally or socially withdrawn, unusually irritable, or sensitive to touch or sound, they may be experiencing some kind of abuse in their care facility.

Neglected nursing home patients may have mysterious bruises, bumps, or scars on their bodies. Their overall health may start to decline as well. They may be dehydrated, disoriented, malnourished, or improperly medicated.

All of these things can be warning signs that your loved one is suffering from abuse.

Being educated and informed on the signs helps you know when to take action.

The Plan

You need to hire a nursing home abuse lawyer. This is the most important step toward seeking justice. You need someone on your side that understands the situation and knows what can be done to hold all responsible parties accountable.

Your representation will take care of everything. You need to provide them with as much information and evidence as possible. If there is photographic or recorded evidence of the abuse, make sure your lawyer has access to that. If your loved one can provide personal testimony, gather that information as well. Tell your lawyer everything; even if you think it’s irrelevant.

Once you have a solid case, you can proceed with legal action and file an official claim at the nursing facility. Request to speak to someone in a leadership role like a manager, supervisor, or board member. Have the facility send you a copy of the formal complaint. If the facility tries to sweep the issue under the rug, you’ll have physical evidence that you can provide if ever necessary.

You need to change your family member’s primary care provider immediately. If you’re no longer comfortable with nursing homes, there are home health programs and other types of long-term to look into and determine if it’s the right fit for your family.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be dealing with this. No billboards or personal testimonies. In a perfect world, everyone would do their absolute best to take of the people around them. In an ideal society, no one would even dream of causing pain to another human being.

But this, these wounds that need healing, this is our reality. No matter how disheartening it might seem; there is hope and answers to be found; proactive, preventative measures to be taken.

We haven’t reached the sunken place just yet. There are things that we can do; changes that we can make. Do your part, speak up, and let’s put an end to an epidemic.

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