Even though many families entrust the support and dignity of their elderly loved ones, in reality, physical Abuse in Nursing Homes fails to uphold this trust and becomes a hidden threat. In a lot of countries, Physical Abuse among Elders is alarming. This article aims to equip you with the knowledge to recognize the signs, risk factors, and how to protect your loved ones away the physical abuse in nursing homes.

What is Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes?

Physical abuse in nursing homes encompasses any intentional act or omission that inflicts physical pain or injury on an elder. A shocking 50% to 60% of elder abuse cases involve physical harm, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse. Spectacularly, some common forms are:

  • Hitting, slapping, kicking, or pushing
  • Restraining a resident excessively or unnecessarily
  • Force-feeding or depriving a resident of food or water
  • Over-medicating or under-medicating a resident
  • Ignoring medical needs that result in injury

How can we recognize the signs of Physical Abuse?

Unfortunately, most of the victims of Physical Abuse in nursing homes often keep silent and are unable to speak up about their paints. It is very essential to be aware of the abuse signs that something may be wrong:

  • Physical Injuries: Unexplained bruises, cuts, burn marks from cigarettes or hot water, broken bones, or pressure sores, internal injuries can cause hidden pain, internal bleeding, or disrupt digestion and elimination, creating discomfort without visible signs, etc.
  • Behavioral Changes: Increased withdrawal, depression, anxiety, or fear
  • Unexplained Fear or Anxiety: Hesitation to talk about the nursing home staff or expressing a fear of specific caregivers

Elder abuse can hide in plain sight.  Be a vigilant observer, pay close attention to your loved ones, and intervene early if something seems amiss!

Sign of physical abuse

Define some risk factors for Physical Abuse in nursing homes

Several factors contribute to an increased risk of physical abuse in nursing homes:

  • Vulnerability of Elderly Residents: Elderly residents with dementia or physical limitations are more susceptible to abuse due to their dependence on caregivers.
  • Understaffing and Overworked Caregivers: Staff shortages and high resident-to-staff ratios can lead to overworked caregivers who are more prone to frustration and neglect.
  • Lack of Proper Training: Untrained staff may lack the skills and knowledge to handle challenging situations with residents, leading to aggressive behavior.

Save some solutions to protect beloved elders away from physical abuse

Normally, violators of physical abuse are not only civilly actionable but criminal. But in reality, most incidents are handled “administratively”. It means that some disciplinary action is taken against an abusive employee by his or her employer and nothing is reported to either criminal or civil authorities. Here are some reasons why some cases of physical abuse in nursing homes might be handled administratively instead of through the criminal justice system:

  • Level of Severity: Not all physical abuse is the same. Minor incidents, like pushing or shoving, might be addressed through administrative actions like termination of employment or retraining for the staff member. More serious cases involving injuries or repeated abuse would likely involve criminal charges.
  • Gathering Evidence: Obtaining concrete evidence, especially for physical abuse against vulnerable adults, can be challenging. Witness testimonies from confused or intimidated residents might not hold up in court.
  • Facility Concerns: Facilities might be reluctant to press criminal charges against staff members due to potential staffing shortages or negative publicity.

The well-being of your loved one is paramount. Here are some ways to safeguard them from physical abuse:

  • Choosing a Reputable Nursing Home: Research the facility’s history of complaints and resident-to-staff ratios. Opt for facilities with accredited staff training programs.
  • Regular Visits and Communication: Maintain regular visits to assess your loved one’s physical and mental well-being. Encourage open communication about their experience.
  • Advocating for Your Loved One: Don’t hesitate to voice concerns to staff or administrators if you suspect abuse. Document everything and take photographs of any injuries.
  • Knowing When to Report Abuse: If you suspect abuse, report it immediately to Adult Protective Services or local law enforcement.

Some well-known sources and support centers can solve physical abuse

Several resources are available to help you navigate this difficult situation:

Elder Abuse Hotlines: Several hotlines offer confidential support and guidance on reporting abuse.

Legal Options: Consulting with an attorney specializing in elder abuse can provide legal guidance and advocacy. 

The Nursing Home & Elder Abuse Law Center is a trusted resource dedicated to advocating for the rights of elderly residents. We offer legal guidance and support to ensure their safety and well-being and prevent elder abuse’s consequences.

Physical abuse in nursing homes is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. By raising awareness, recognizing the signs, and taking action to report abuse, we can work towards creating safe and secure environments for our most vulnerable citizens. Remember, your vigilance and intervention can make a life-changing difference for your loved one.

Let’s take care and protect your loved ones against the physical abuse! 

elder abuse lawyer