Things To Look Out For With Elder Neglect & Abuse in Nevada
With more than 50 nursing homes in Las Vegas, NV and 80% of them receiving citations for below average standards of care by 2020, elderly abuse is surprisingly not uncommon in Las Vegas and it’s important to spot the signs early to stop further neglect or personal injury to the patient. Most people assume that their elders are safe in the care of professionals, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Caregivers can sometimes be hired without background checks or the necessary credentials, or just not trained enough to handle their patients properly. There can also be under-staffing issues at the care facility. If you have a loved one in the care of a nursing home in Nevada, make sure to watch out for these signs of neglect and abuse so you can act quickly if there is a problem.
Here are some of the key signs to look out for to make sure your loved one is safe and not being taken advantage of by their caregivers or staff.
Signs of Elderly Abuse & Neglect in the Nursing Home Environment
- Physical Harm
Physical injuries are the most obvious sign to look for, and they should be the first thing on your mind as physical abuse of any kind can be highly detrimental to your loved one’s health and emotional state. Some of the most common types of physical abuse include hitting, slapping, pushing, or rough treatment, and in some cases caregivers will go as far as harshly using physical restraints on the patient or striking them with objects.
Look with bruises, inflammation, broken bones, sprains, and fractures, along any other unusual physical symptoms. In extreme cases, elders especially with pre-existing conditions have suffered spinal cord injuries or head injuries at the hands of a reckless caregiver, or after being assaulted when a caregiver loses their temper.
When an elder is being abused, they are not going to know how to react depending on their condition. They may be embarrassed or afraid to tell someone about the physical abuse, or they may try to downplay the abuser’s actions to keep the peace. This means it can lead to a significant amount of abuse happening when no one is present.
Intentional physical abuse is distinct from a slip and fall accident, which is instead categorized as a premises liability case here in Nevada.
- Behavioral Changes
The most common change has to do with your loved one’s behavior. Are they acting the same as normal or as expected based on their physical or mental health, or is there a sudden change that can’t be explained by illness or medication? For example, an elderly loved one may usually love being around others and talking at length, except now they are not as willing to speak to you or are hesitant to meet.
This can be a sign of neglect, as they may have experienced some form of physical or emotional trauma and are too scared or intimidated to bring it up. Withdrawal is a natural reaction for people who are put through a traumatic or shocking experience, so even if the patient says that everything is OK, follow up to make sure they are being treated well.
- Odd Bank Withdrawals
One of the more common ways that elders experience is abuse is through financial manipulation, even in the professional nursing home environment. This considered elder financial abuse here in Nevada, and while it may not seem as serious as physical or emotional abuse, you can still potentially sue a nursing home when this happens.
Caregivers, even when certified, can cross the boundaries and take advantage of their patients, either by targeting patients with cognitive decline who cannot attend to their own finances, or by emotionally manipulating patients into giving them cash or assets. Your loved one may have been tricked into giving out their financial information and this can show up as odd cash withdrawals: more frequent ones, and with higher cash amounts.
This may seem normal at first because they are tapping into their funds, but then you start to see patterns and the cash never seems to be enough. This type of banking pattern shouldn’t be overlooked because it is rarely normal.
Instead, take the time to investigate if your loved one has enough funds for their daily needs at the facility, and note if they talk about trying to be generous to a specific caregiver. It’s not uncommon in the nursing home cases we see here in Nevada that the caregiver wins the patient’s trust first before appealing to their sympathy, pity, or guilt to hand over cash.
- Anxiety or Agitated State
If the elder is always anxious when it comes to doing simple tasks, or especially when a specific person enters the room, it could mean that something underlying is causing them distress. They may have experienced personal injury or abuse at the hands of a caregiver, or may be experiencing emotional manipulation over time.
This is especially important to look out for in patients who are currently non-verbal or whose cognitive state has caused them to be unable to properly communicate. If they are being physically or psychologically abused, their distress can manifest in a jittery, agitated state. Even if they are not fully aware of what is happening, they can still develop anxiety associated with being in the care home.
This is always going to depend on the elder’s medical condition, which means you have to keep up-to-date with this information too. While anxiety can develop in elders as a symptom of disease, if the onset is sudden and not typical for their condition it’s worth investigating further to see if there is another cause.
Similar to anxiety, fear can manifest in a patient who has been abused, even if they are not fully aware of the situation. They can react strongly to returning to the nursing home environment after trips outside, or they may exhibit reluctance to be in the same room as specific caregivers. Also, observe if they react in an extreme way to simple, daily tasks, like washing, mealtimes, or change of clothes. If they are disproportionately afraid of doing these tasks when you are around, it may be that a caregiver is abusing them during their routine visits.
- General Neglect
Also called negligent abuse, this is when a caregiver intentionally or unintentionally does not give the patient enough attention. Even if this is not as obvious as outright physical violence or financial manipulation, neglect is still a form of elder abuse and can still cause the patient considerable pain and suffering. For example, if the caregiver fails to give them food, water, or medication at the right time, the patient may become stressed or develop complications.
It can also be as simple as not being able to go to the bathroom at the right time, which is an important routine for elders to preserve their self-esteem and mental well-being.
Ask your loved one if they feel like they are properly being taken care of, and specifically if they are frequently hungry, thirsty, or left dirty for long periods during the day. While patients will sometimes be unhappy with certain routines at the nursing home, if the negligence seems extreme it may have gotten to the point of becoming abusive.
- Poor Hygiene
Related to general neglect, if your loved one’s personal hygiene doesn’t seem up to par, it can be a sign and symptom of abuse. Part of a nursing home’s legal obligation is to take care of their patients, even for day to day activities like bathing and bathroom activities. If they seem to constantly need a change of clothes or if their hair, skin, nails, and teeth seem to be dirty all the time, this can mean that the staff is not tending to the elder properly. Bedsores are an especially common sign of neglect in nursing homes, which can lead to infections and sometimes death. It’s especially important for elders with mobility issues to have the assistance of their caregivers for these needs.
Pay attention to these details, even if they seem small at first.
As long as you are looking out for these signs, it is going to be a lot easier to ensure the elderly in your life are fully protected. There is nothing worse than being in a situation where the elderly in your life isn’t safe. This can become disconcerting and is going to put you in a spot where it is time to take action.
When to Call a Neglect & Abuse Attorney in Las Vegas, NV
If you believe someone elderly is being abused, please seek legal assistance immediately so that you can have the best chance of protecting your elders! In the most extreme cases, elders have experienced disability or even wrongful death at the hands of abusive caregivers.
Remember that any home for the aged or nursing home is ultimately a for profit business, and that they can and will be held liable if they failed to provide standards of care through their caregivers. That means that while you may want to speak with them directly to resolve these issues, they may make it difficult for you to get information and may even attempt to settle out of court for a lower sum.
Take note and record what you can, and then get the support of an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney. At Gazda & Tadayon, we can help. After many hundreds of personal injury and abuse cases, we’ve seen what goes on in elder abuse cases and lawsuits here in Nevada, and we can work to make sure your elder is protected and that others don’t have to continue dealing with the same harm in the future. Contact us for a free consultation about nursing home abuse claims today.