The abuse of older people is unfortunately more common than any of us would like to believe. According to the National Council on Aging, 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has been a victim of elder abuse.
Of these, just 1 in 24 cases is reported to authorities.
As you may know, a significant number of elder abuse cases happen in long-term assisted living facilities such as nursing homes. If you have family members living in a nursing home, it’s important to be aware of the signs of abuse, how to report them, and when you may need the expertise of a nursing home abuse attorney serving Northern New Jersey. I’ll give a brief overview of the issue and how to recognize it below, as well as when Buttafuoco & Associates may be able to help.
Nursing Home Abuse Defined
When a caretaker at an assisted living facility harms a nursing home resident, this is considered nursing home abuse. This includes not only physical abuse, but also sexual abuse and neglect (for example, where a resident is left unattended for a long period of time). Emotional abuse and financial abuse are also somewhat common. What many people don’t know is that regardless of whether the harm is intentional or unintentional, it is still elder abuse–and punishable under New Jersey law.
Most people are unaware of just how prevalent nursing home abuse is, but according to the World Health Organization, up to 1 in 3 older adults have experienced nursing home abuse. Women, people with mental health issues, LGBTQ individuals, and veterans are all at greater risk of experiencing abuse.
The reasons for nursing home abuse are many and varied, but are often due to a lack of nursing home employees, employee burnout, and a lack of proper training. Nursing home staff who are overworked may struggle to control their stress or anger, or even to respond promptly to serious situations such as falls, cardiac arrest, or other medical care issues. According to World Health Organization surveying of nursing home staff, as many as two in three report that they have committed abuse or neglect in the last year.
Staff mistakes like being non-responsive to residents’ needs, improper medication administration, not resolving conflicts between nursing home residents, or even being disrespectful of residents can all potentially qualify as abuse. As you can imagine, nursing home abuse can result in trauma, mental health disorders, health emergencies, and even wrongful death.
In all of these cases, it can be challenging to determine whether you have legal grounds for a lawsuit. A good New Jersey nursing home abuse attorney can lead you in the right direction and give you clarity.
Buttafuoco & Associates fights passionately against nursing home abuse, and offers free consultations to anyone in need.
Recognizing Nursing Home Abuse and Steps to Take
Being able to recognize nursing home abuse can help you protect your loved ones while they are in long-term care. Here are some of the common signs:
- Broken bones
- Skin issues such as bruises, burns, cuts, or torn skin
- Weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration
- Dental injuries
- Evidence of falls, such as fractures, bruises, or head injuries
- Infections, especially those that become serious
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Changes in mental health, such as depression and panic attacks
In addition to knowing the signs, if you notice problematic staff behaviors, keep a record of them. If you believe your loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse, it is important to report it to the proper authorities, including local police and Adult Protective Services in your state. (You can find contact information for your state through the National Adult Protective Services Association.)
It may also be in your loved one’s best interest for you to seek out legal help. Make sure to work with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in Northern New Jersey, as a legal team that has worked on many of these cases will typically be most helpful.
New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Laws
There are many state and federal laws in place to ensure that long-term care facilities are properly caring for the people under their care. New Jersey laws provide >specific legal rights to residents, including the right to a safe living space and the ability to file a lawsuit if they are mistreated. The damages awarded can help pay for essentials such as hospital stays, medical bills, and other expenses.
A qualified attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim, ensure that all paperwork is filed by deadlines, and assist you in getting the maximum settlement available to you.
If you or a loved one thinks you have a nursing home abuse lawsuit, it is best to act quickly to prevent serious long-term harm. The nursing home abuse attorney at Buttafuoco & Associates has handled many such cases and we would be happy to consult with you and clarify your legal rights.
Get in touch for a free consultation at 1-800-NOW-HURT.