In August 2017, National Public Radio (NPR) published an eye-opening article on nursing home abuse entitled: “Serious Nursing Home Abuse Often Not Reported To Police, Federal Investigators Find.” In the article it said, “More than one-quarter of serious cases of nursing home abuse are not reported to the police, according to an alert released Monday morning by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services.” This is serious, no one should have to suffer in silence, especially our most vulnerable.
If your loved one was a victim of nursing home abuse, would you recognize the warning signs? Would you know what to do? What if your loved one has dementia, do you know how to give them a voice when they don’t have one? Read on as we explain what to do if you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse.
1. Ask your loved one if they’re being mistreated.
If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated, the first order of business is to simply ask them, “How are they treating you here? Do you feel safe?” Hopefully, your loved one will answer you honestly, but be aware: Sometimes victims of abuse will keep quiet out of fear of getting their caregiver in trouble, or out of fear of retaliation.”
2. Be vigilant if your loved one has dementia.
Alzheimer’s for example, is a progressive disease; symptoms get worse over time. If your loved one has dementia, they may not have the mental faculties to report the abuse. Since dementia patients are at a higher risk of abuse, it’s important that their friends and family are extra vigilant and pay attention to the warning signs. If your loved one has unexplained bruising, ligature marks, or other injuries, you must get down to the bottom of it.
3. Realize the nursing home could be lying.
In the NPR article, it discussed a case where an elderly woman was sexually assaulted at a nursing home. After the attack, the home cleaned her off, destroying all evidence of the crime. According to Curtis Roy, an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services, “They went so far as to contact the local police department to tell them that they did not need to come out to [sic] facility to conduct an investigation.” This incident demonstrates that nursing homes can lie, so it’s important to be aware of that.
4. Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, you want to listen to your gut. Contact a nursing home abuse attorney promptly for legal advice. Ask them about Georgia’s laws regarding placing hidden cameras in nursing homes. Also ask about the state and federal reporting requirements for nursing homes that learn of abuse.