Taking advantage of vulnerable elderly individuals is a disgraceful and illegal practice. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is common in Georgia and other states across the country. If you suspect that your loved one doesn’t receive the standard of care they’re entitled to or if you suspect they’re being abused in a nursing home, contact our attorneys at The Shrable Law Firm, P.C.
Our dedicated attorneys aggressively pursue assisted living facilities and nursing homes to hold staff members accountable for abusing and neglecting elderly persons. We serve nursing home residents and loved ones in Americus, Georgia.
Nursing Homes in the Americus Area
There’s one major nursing home in the Americus area – Magnolia Manor, a large senior living facility that offers four levels of care.
New residents may start at the independent living level then move to other levels if they need more assistance in the future. Some residents might go straight into the memory-care level if they were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or are having other memory issues that are greatly affecting their ability to take care of themselves. Overall, the nursing home has over 200 senior citizens in their care.
If you have a loved one who is or was living in a nursing home in the Americus area and you suspect they may have been subjected to abuse or neglect, you have options. Call (229) 349-6291 to schedule a free consultation with an Americus nursing home abuse attorney.
Laws Protecting the Elderly from Abuse and Neglect
Many state and federal laws protect the rights and safety of nursing home residents. In particular, these laws protect the residents’ freedom from abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Georgia law makes it illegal to neglect, abuse, and exploit elderly persons.
State laws also impose strict reporting requirements. Thus, it is unlawful for someone who is obligated to report nursing home abuse to not report the illegal conduct to appropriate authorities.
In particular, nursing homes and their staff are prohibited from engaging in the following types of abuse:
- Physical (acts of violence against nursing home residents)
- Emotional and psychological (bullying, manipulation, verbal insults, threats, and other forms of emotional and psychological abuse)
- Sexual (forcing or manipulating a resident into non-consensual sexual activity)
- Financial (illegally taking a resident’s money and/or belongings from them or taking advantage of their finances, generally)
State and federal laws prohibit nursing homes and assisted living facilities from neglecting residents. Nursing home neglect refers to the staff members’ failure to properly care for residents. Common forms of nursing home neglect are:
- Failure to provide adequate personal hygiene
- Causing a resident to suffer emotional stress (e.g., by leaving them alone for too long or disregarding needs)
- Failure to meet a resident’s basic needs
- Failure to give residents the proper medical attention they deserve
If you believe that your loved one was a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, consider speaking with our skilled attorneys to determine your best legal options.
Personal injury attorneys at The Shrable Law Firm, P.C., we assist families of those living in nursing homes to get justice and hold facilities and staff members accountable for despicable and illegal conduct.
Reporting Suspected Abuse
If you suspect your loved one has been subjected to nursing home abuse, your first step should be reporting it to the proper authorities.
1. Notify State Authorities
You can file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Community Health through the Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation. The complaint form will require you to give as much specific information as possible about the incident(s) and requires answers to some specific questions.
2. Hire an Attorney
After you’ve reported the suspected abuse to the authorities, it’s a good idea to start speaking to an Americus nursing home abuse attorney. Although the Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation will investigate reported claims, you may also file a lawsuit against the long-term care facility that abused or neglected your loved one.
These lawsuits can be complicated, and nursing homes are often owned by large corporations that own many different facilities. Those large corporations have a lot of money to put into lawsuits, so it can be difficult to fight them without legal representation.
Our attorneys have extensive experience standing up to these large companies and won’t let your case get buried by their team of lawyers.
Signs of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Signs of nursing home abuse can sometimes go unnoticed for months or even years. Family members may not notice that a loved one has experienced abuse or neglect because they don’t visit frequently, or the signs of abuse are too subtle.
Some of the most common signs that indicate abuse in nursing homes include:
- Torn clothing
- Broken glasses
- Broken bones
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Sudden emotional changes and reclusivity
- Unexpected weight loss
If your loved one expresses extreme sadness, fear, or anxiety, you must consult with our attorneys to investigate the possibility of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Certain Conditions Put the Elderly at Risk for Abuse
Anyone can be subjected to abuse, however, the elderly are at a higher risk. If they need assistance with any area of daily living, their dependence on others can make them vulnerable to being taken advantage of or mistreated.
There are certain conditions that the elderly may have that put them at a higher risk for abuse. We will discuss a few of these conditions below.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Both Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can cause confusion and distress in nursing home residents who may not remember where they are, why they are there, or who certain people are. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and dementia can eventually progress to the point where the person can no longer take care of their own basic needs.
The way in which nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia must rely on nursing home staff for support and care makes them extremely vulnerable to abuse. They may need assistance with eating, bathing, using the restroom, taking medications, and changing.
Staff might neglect them by withholding assistance with these things, or they may be rough or unprofessional in their treatment of the resident. These disorders can also cause behavioral changes and emotional outbursts, which nursing home staff may be displeased with, and attempt to subdue with physical acts of violence or overmedication.
Another concerning aspect of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is that the resident’s memory issues may cause them to not remember instances of abuse. These individuals may not recall being abused when asked by loved ones if they are being treated appropriately by nursing home staff.
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia who is living in a long-term care facility, it is important to check on them regularly and be aware of any changes in their behavior, demeanor, or physical appearance.
If you suspect new medical concerns are being brought on or worsened by potential abuse, you may consider taking them to a doctor outside of the facility they live in so that you can get a second opinion.
When your loved one goes to live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you assume that they will be taken care of and treated well. Because of this trust in the nursing home, the families of elderly residents sometimes succumb to their busy lifestyles and visit less often.
However, as we know, nursing homes don’t always take good care of residents, and when abusive nursing home staff sees that a resident has become more socially isolated, this can cause more problems.
When an elderly resident doesn’t have family or loved ones checking on them regularly (or at all), they are at a higher risk for abuse because the nursing home staff knows that it’s unlikely anyone will notice abuse and the changes it can cause in the resident. When visiting or checking on your loved one, be cognizant of their mood, physical state, and behavior.
A nursing home resident who has been abused may display bruises, injuries, or signs of depression, among other warning signs, but if there is no one regularly visiting the resident, then it is possible that no one will notice and the abuse will continue or worsen.
A resident that is being abused may also be denied access to a phone to contact their loved ones for help, so it is always best to assume that you should be the one to initiate contact and plan visits.
When it comes to physical abuse, it’s unfortunately likely that the average young or middle-aged nursing home staff member will be able to overpower an elderly resident knowing that they lack the ability to fight back or stop the abuse.
Nursing home staff may abuse this physical power imbalance in order to harm weaker residents. Staff may forcefully grab or shake residents, or hit or shove them, in order to assert their power over them. They might physically restrain residents in situations where it’s not necessary, or they might restrain residents with excessive force or violence in situations where restraint is needed.
Look for cuts, bruises, broken bones, or other injuries on your loved ones in nursing homes as those might be signs of physical abuse. As we get older, we also bruise easier, so if you see bruises, inquire about how they got there and then independently ask the nursing home about it. If the stories do not align, that may also be a red flag that abuse is occuring.
Who is Liable for Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect?
When a resident suffers injury or harm in a nursing home or becomes a victim of abuse or neglect, the loved ones can typically hold the facility accountable for the conduct of its staff members. Nursing homes have a duty to provide residents with a safe environment and free of abuse and neglect. The facility may fail to meet the duty of care due to:
- Negligent hiring
- Inadequate security
- Negligent supervision
In some cases, a third party can be held liable for a nursing home resident’s injury. A third party can be liable under the following circumstances:
- The facility hired a third-party contractor to provide security
- A resident’s injury is the result of faulty or defective equipment
- A resident was abused by a healthcare provider from an outside facility
Reach out to our nursing home abuse attorneys in Americus, Georgia, to investigate your case and help you determine liability.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Serving Americus, Georgia
The knowledgeable nursing home abuse attorneys at The Shrable Law Firm, P.C., understand how painful and overwhelming it is to see your loved one suffer from the consequences of abuse or neglect.
That’s why we’re dedicated to helping victims of nursing home abuse and loved ones hold facilities accountable for failure to provide the care and support needed for elderly persons. Get a case review with our team of personal injury attorneys to determine your options.
We want to help you get justice for your loved one who suffered abuse at the hands of a nursing home, and hold that nursing home and its staff accountable. If your loved one was abused at a nursing home, call us at (229) 349-6291 to schedule a free consultation with an Americus nursing home abuse attorney.