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Omaha Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys

Legal Help for Your Loved One

Nursing home abuse is a widespread issue for the elderly community. Of the U.S. nursing home population, 44% have reportedly been abused, while only 10% of elders living at home have experienced abuse.

This disparity shows that we must do more to protect our loved ones while they are in the care of others. The elderly are often targets for abuse and neglect because sometimes they cannot fend for themselves or advocate for themselves, and they are not in constant contact with family members. If your loved one is in a nursing home or an adult daycare, thoroughly research the facility. The most common types of abuse are physical, emotional, and financial. Try to educate yourself on the signs of abuse so you can identify the issues quickly and keep your loved ones from harm.

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The Difference Between Abuse and Neglect

Abuse and neglect are both instances of mistreatment; however, they are not considered the same thing. As a rule, abuse is an intentional, purposeful, knowing act that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable senior. Abuse can be physical, mental, or emotional, and can include any exploitation of an older person or violation of the basic rights they are entitled to.

While neglect is seen by many as a form of abuse, there are differentiating factors. Neglect is, by and large, a lack of action - a failure to perform caretaking duties and obligations. Neglect can be categorized as either passive and active, but that depends on the intent of the caregiver. Passive neglect is unintentional and can be the result of an undertrained or overworked caregiver, or can simply be the result of a miscommunication or misunderstanding. Active neglect is when a caregiver shows an intentional disregard for the needs of an elderly person.

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Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is highly dangerous, especially when combined with other preexisting health issues a senior may have. Physically abused elders have a 300% higher risk of death. Physical abuse can be easy to spot, as your loved one may have unexplained injuries such as bruises, welts, black eyes, cuts, broken bones, or head injuries. But, abuse can be harder to identify, too. Signs of physical abuse and neglect include:

  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Bedsores
  • Worsening overall health
  • Poor hygiene
  • Increased vulnerability to illness and infection
  • Insomnia
  • Psychological changes
  • Anxiety and fear of others
  • Eating disorder
  • Withdrawals and depression
  • Refusal to take medications
  • Changes in behavior and personality
  • Agitation

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Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can be harder to detect since it does not leave physical scars. Being constantly berated or talked down to can have negative effect on the victim’s physical and mental health. It is dehumanizing, and it can cause deep and painful suffering. The signs that a patient may be experiencing emotional abuse are:

  • Depression
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Frustration
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Loss of interest
  • Low self-esteem
  • Passive and non-communicative behavior
  • Changes in behavior and personality

Even knowing the signs, it can still be hard to detect emotional abuse because behavioral changes in a senior citizen could be attributed to illness or struggling to deal with the loss of independence. If it is abuse or neglect, the victim’s behavior will often change when the abuser comes around. Signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Nervousness or cowering in patient
  • Abrupt change in patient’s mood
  • Basic hygiene not being provided to patient
  • Aggression or tension between patient and caregiver
  • Caregiver refuses to let you talk to patient alone
  • Caregiver isolates patient from family
  • Caregiver gives contradicting statements about patient’s behavior or injuries
  • Caregiver treats patient like a child

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Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is another common problem. Every year, over 500,000 seniors are victims of financial scams that cost up to $3 billion annually in lost funds. The elderly make up 70% of America’s wealth due to the fact that they have larger savings. This fact (coupled with the fact that they can be too trusting) can make them easy targets. Common forms of financial abuse include theft, fraud, real-estate exploitation, contractor fraud, and investment and insurance scams. Unfortunately, the elderly are most likely to be scammed by a family member, nursing home resident, or caregiver. This crime is committed "close to home."

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Other Effects of Elder Abuse

The effects of elder abuse do not just stop at physical or emotional trauma. The impact extends to:

  • Social consequences: Seniors who are victimized by abuse can become isolated due to the trauma they experience, withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy. This can have a negative effect on their overall demeanor and quality of life.
  • Need for increased medical care: The physical damage that occurs as a result of elder abuse can lead to lifelong conditions or injuries. This can lead to higher medical bills and the need for more services, which were unnecessary before.

These are just a few of the consequences that may occur when a senior is treated in an abusive manner.

Getting a Lawyer Involved

If you or someone you know has been a victim of nursing home abuse, you need to take action. Bottlinger Law L.L.C. is here to help. We can provide assistance on how to regain your assets from financial abuse or file a lawsuit against a nursing home. Contact an Omaha personal injury attorney at our office at (402) 505-8234 for a free consultation.

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