A Canadian nursing home nurse was recently arrested and charged with eight counts of first-degree murder. The nurse is accused of poisoning eight residents between the years of 2007 and 2014. As terrible as these allegations are, this is only one example (albeit, a potentially tragic and incomprehensible example) of the abuse and neglect that thousands of nursing home residents face each day. Sadly, many instances of nursing home abuse or neglect go unreported and/or uninvestigated because:
- The abuse victim feels ashamed or embarrassed about the abuse or neglect;
- Family members or friends to whom the abuse is reported do not believe the victim;
- Identifying the perpetrator of the abuse or neglect is difficult or impossible due to high turnover rates, poor memory, and other difficulties.
The problem of nursing home abuse and neglect has reached epidemic proportions: Although nearly nine out of every ten nursing home residents have heard of or seen another resident being abused or neglected, only about 20% of cases are ever reported.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Ending the shameful abuse and neglect of America’s senior citizens begins by encouraging more reporting of abuse and neglect and reporting such instances sooner. When instances of abuse or neglect are reported promptly, not only is the health and welfare of the victim better served but there is a greater opportunity to catch the perpetrator of the abuse or neglect.
To that end, family members and friends whose loved ones are in a nursing care facility ought to be on the lookout for the following signs of abuse or neglect:
- Unexplained sores, bruises, or a person who suddenly begins to “fall” more often;
- Being unnecessarily and inexplicably restricted from seeing your loved one, especially when you attempt to visit during “normal” visiting hours;
- Nursing home staff that wants to “monitor” or be close during your visit with your loved one;
- Observations of your loved one (or another resident) wandering the halls or grounds with little or no supervision (this can suggest that the nursing home is understaffed and does not have enough
- Reports of abusive or neglectful behavior from the victim (it is an all-too-common occurrence for family members and friends to write off reports of abuse from the victim as being signs of dementia or some other mental condition).
To Whom Do You Make a Report of Nursing Home Abuse?
In California, if you believe your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect you should report the matter to your local county Adult Protective Services office. Officials with your county’s APS office are responsible for investigating claims of nursing home abuse or neglect and making referrals of cases to law enforcement agencies and other public agencies.
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(image courtesy of Tomas Castelazo)