If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may find yourself reading articles about nursing home abuse in the news and wondering, “How could someone do that to an elderly person?” The truth is, there are several causes of abuse in senior care facilities. Sometimes it happens because the person who did it is simply a bad person, but other factors can come into play.
The following conditions can contribute to the abuse of the residents of nursing homes. In this article, we’re going to go over who is more likely to be abused, and what to do if you suspect abuse.
The Causes of Nursing Home Abuse
These common problems in nursing homes can lead to abuse. Understanding the root causes of abuse can help you learn how to spot potential problems in any facility you choose for your loved one.
Problems With Caregivers
Facilities with poor employee screening and low wages may end up with employees who are abusive or content to do the least possible amount of work possible without losing their paycheck. Sadly, there are those who care nothing for the patients. Some people may accept these jobs specifically to prey on a vulnerable population.
One example of this could be a woman who does not enjoy being a care worker, but due to a criminal record, she can’t find any other employment. Once she has the job, she is openly hostile to the residents when no one is looking and sees opportunities to exploit the residents financially, such as stealing from them or forging checks.
Problems With Care Facilities
Many cases of elder abuse in nursing homes begin at the administrative level. Low pay, too many hours, and not enough staff can breed resentment. These factors can also cause care workers to become overwhelmed because they cannot attend to the residents’ needs. They are simply spread too thin to a good job, and it’s not their fault.
One example of this could be a man who enjoys being a care worker, cares deeply for the seniors in his charge and their welfare, and is dedicated to doing a good job. However, the home is understaffed, he is exhausted, and he accidentally forgets to give a resident their cardiac medications, leading to worsening health problems or even death.
Problems With Residents
Nursing home abuse can also happen between residents if there is not enough staff in place to do an adequate job of supervision. People with dementia may lash out, becoming violent and agitated and attacking workers and other residents. This can even happen with dementia patients who were very gentle and friendly before the condition. It is the staff’s job to manage it.
One example of abuse between nursing home residents could be an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman who is attacked by a resident with dementia because the staff was asleep, they were gossiping or using their cell phones, or there weren’t enough staff member to supervise everyone.
Who Is More Likely to Be Abused
Although nursing home abuse can happen to anyone, there are certain members of the vulnerable senior population who are more likely to experience abuse. These include:
- Patients with physical disabilities
- Patients with cognitive disabilities
- Patients with high needs
- Female patients
- Patients who are veterans
- LGBT patients
Nursing homes can raise the standard of care by paying more money to their staff, creating better working conditions, and going out of their way to recruit staff members who are veterans or members of the LGBT community.
According to Pintas Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys, nursing home abuse cases are complex—if handled well, they can still take years to resolve. If your loved one has been the victim of abuse or you suspect it, you may want to contact a lawyer to learn more about your options. In addition, be sure to report the abuse to the facility and to your state’s Adult Protective Services office.