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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysResearch shows that nursing home abuse and is startlingly common across the United States. It is hard to believe that anyone would be intentionally cruel to an elderly or disabled person—let alone someone the individual has been assigned to care for—but it does happen. Sadly, many instances of abuse go unreported because residents are not physically or cognitively capable of reporting the mistreatment. If your loved one is living in a long-term care facility, you may worry about whether he or she is being treated with the care and respect he or she deserves. There are several warning signs that families should be on the lookout for that could indicate that their loved one is being harmed in a nursing home.

Red Flags of Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse

Although many studies have been conducted to better understand nursing home abuse, the true extent of the problem is still unknown. In one survey, 44 percent of nursing home residents reported being abused at a facility, and 38 percent reported witnessing other residents being abused. Physical abuse includes kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, and other acts of physical violence. Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault, and indecent exposure.

Some warning signs that a nursing home resident is being physically or sexually abused include:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home neglect and abuse are sadly common in many nursing homes across the United States. Nursing homes are often badly understaffed or employ staff members who have not been properly trained for their job duties. Even worse, some nursing home staff intentionally take their frustrations out on residents. Many of these residents have physical and mental health problems that leave them unable to stand up for themselves. Residents instead must depend on concerned loved ones to advocate on their behalf.

Threatening or Intentionally Scaring Residents

Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and other illness that affect an individual’s ability to understand what is going on around them are prevalent in nursing homes. Unfortunately, these illnesses can turn a mild mannered, sweet grandmother or grandfather into someone who is hostile or downright mean. Properly trained staff members should know that when a resident with mental decline is rude or uncooperative, it is the illness speaking and such behavior is not reflective of the resident’s true nature. However, some nursing home workers instead respond combatively to residents who are simply afraid or confused. Threatening, intimidating, or yelling at a nursing home resident is just one example of unacceptable nursing home abuse.  

Ridiculing or Mocking a Resident

Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Sadly, some nursing home staff use this as an opportunity to bully residents instead of offering the compassionate care they should. In December 2018, a Snapchat video surfaced that showed Illinois nursing home workers mocking a 91 year-old nursing home resident who suffers from dementia. The two staff members were arrested and a lawsuit was brought against the facility for violating both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Signs that a loved one is being emotionally abused can include significant changes in the resident’s demeanor, childlike behaviors such as thumb sucking or rocking back and forth, and staff members refusing to let you be alone with your loved one.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, you should know that while many nursing home staff have the residents’ best interest at heart, nursing home abuse and neglect is a sad reality. Sometimes it is due to maliciousness and other times, understaffing, poor staff communication, or inadequate staff training. Regardless of how or why it happens, nursing home abuse and neglect is unacceptable. It is up to friends and family of nursing home residents to be their advocates and watch out for signs of neglect or abuse. Physical abuse is usually easier to spot than emotional abuse. It is important, however, to learn about the main types of emotional abuse and how to notice if your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home.

Purposely Demeaning or Humiliating Residents

Getting older and needing the around-the-clock-care that a nursing home provides can be an incredibly hard thing for some nursing home residents to accept. Many people who eventually need to relocate to a long-term care facility led vibrant, independent lives before being weakened by age, injury, or illness. This is why it is vital that nursing home staff treat residents with respect and dignity. Sadly, some staff may make fun of residents or mock them as amusement. Staff may be making what they think are private jokes among themselves at the resident’s expense, but the resident hears the ridicule. Unscrupulous staff may consider this behavior harmless, but in reality, mocking, jeering, and poking fun at residents in a type of emotional abuse.

Threatening a Resident

Admittedly, being a caretaker of elderly and sometimes cognitively-challenged nursing home residents is a challenging job. Sometimes residents refuse to eat meals, shower, or take their medicine. While this is understandably frustrating, staff resorting to making threats against a resident is deplorable and abusive. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who shows fear, apprehension, or suddenly becomes quiet around certain staff members, this may be a sign the staff is mistreating him or her.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at all times. Sadly, some nursing home staff do not treat elderly or disabled residents as well as they should.

The warning signs of physical abuse are generally much more obvious than the signs of psychological or emotional abuse—especially for residents with cognitive issues like dementia. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is your responsibility to be vigilant for subtle signs of abuse or neglect.

What Does Emotional Abuse Look Like?

Many residents of nursing homes find that moving to the facility is a tremendously emotional event. For a person who has been autonomous their entire adult life to now need help using the bathroom or eating can be extremely disheartening. This is why it is so important for nursing home staff to do what they can to keep residents’ spirits up and treat them with respect. Nursing home staff who are overworked, under-trained, or have hateful attitudes toward residents may purposely do things to hurt residents. Examples of psychological or emotional abuse include, but are not limited to:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysYou have probably heard many news stories of nursing home abuse and neglect. Individuals staying in nursing homes generally need a higher level of care than those at other types of facilities and are therefore more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. However, mistreatment does still happen at assisted living facilities, and it is just as unacceptable as mistreatment at nursing homes. If you or a loved one has suffered due to negligence or abuse while living in an assisted living facility, you may be able to sue for damages.

Residents May Be Afraid to Come Forward

Residents of an assisted living facility are usually slightly more independent than residents at a nursing home. They may only need limited assistance with daily living activities and are less likely to suffer from serious dementia or other memory or cognition issues. Even though they are more self-sufficient than nursing home residents, those living at an assisted living facility can still be taken advantage of and mistreated. Sometimes assisted living abuse and neglect goes unreported because the victim is afraid to speak up. Other times, residents fear that an abusive staff member will retaliate if they report the mistreatment. Other residents are simply unaware of what their rights are at an assisted living facility or put up with bad care because they do not realize they deserve better.

Examples of Assisted Living Abuse and Neglect

Assisted living abuse can occur not only between staff and residents, but also among residents themselves. In cases in which a resident is being abused by another resident, the assisted living staff have a responsibility to implement interventions to prevent future abuse incidents. Assisted living abuse can involve:

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