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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Children and the elderly are the two most vulnerable groups among us, yet child abuse and elder abuse occur too often. In an effort to increase people’s awareness of elder abuse, Elder Abuse Awareness Day was established as a worldwide annual event. Seniors can be subjected to several kinds of abuse besides neglect and poor care in a nursing home. They can suffer from:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Sexual abuse; and
  • Financial abuse.

By “abuse”, we do not mean the temporary neglect that may arise from the nursing home being understaffed. When some of the staff is missing, the others work harder in efforts to cover the work of those absent. But typically, some tasks will be left undone. At first it will be the less important treatments like applying lotion to dry skin.

If necessary, it may then also be tasks like offering water to an Alzheimer’s patient or turning them in bed every two hours. The patient is unable to complain and the staff may rush onward to what they regard as more essential tasks like changing wound dressings or giving medications, which, if not done, could cause an immediate medical problem.

Unless the nursing home is chronically understaffed, neglected tasks will be done the next day or next week and residents will be checked for any new problems like early decubitus ulcers. These scenarios are undesirable but not malicious.

Malicious Abuse

Deliberate nursing home abuse is unforgivable. Too often, a nurse or nursing assistant will victimize a resident, knowing that the person cannot speak up about it. In some cases, the resident may be afraid of punishment if they speak up; they may be unable to speak after suffering a stroke; or they may feel it would be pointless since they are just one of many residents in a busy facility. Please see our Nursing Home Liability page for some examples of this type of bullying and harm.

However, the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 lays out the legal rights of senior citizens. All nursing homes are required to post a list of these rights in a prominent place where everyone can see it. Visitors and family members can read it to learn what standards the nursing home must meet and when a legal complaint might be warranted.

If you are trying to choose a good nursing home for a loved one, we may be able to help. If you are wondering whether your loved one’s current nursing home has been neglecting or abusing your family member, please contact us for a free case review.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:06 PM

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The Cochran Firm handles Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense claims for clients throughout the United States of America. The information on this website does not constitute legal advice nor form an attorney-client relationship.Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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