Physical and Emotional Harm to Nursing Home Patients

A RI & MA Attorney who takes Elderly Abuse Seriously

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you know how crucial it is that they receive the best possible care available to them and avoid all forms of abuse and neglect. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that almost two million people age 65 or older are currently living in one of the more than 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S.

While caring for a loved one who is spending time in a nursing home, it is key to be able to recognize the early signs of nursing home abuse. There are three main categories of abuse: physical harm, emotional harm, and financial exploitation.

Nursing Homes and Physical Abuse

Physical signs are the most obvious form of nursing home abuse. Physical injuries can include:

  • unexplained bruises and scars
  • overuse of restraints
  • medication overdoses
  • avoidable bed sores

Look for signs of new injuries when alone with your loved one, and be aware if the nursing home caregiver is reluctant to allow you to be alone with the resident.

Emotional Abuse at Nursing Homes

Emotional abuse of nursing home residents is often much more difficult to detect, but no less significant. Patients may experience anxiety, fear, or any other undesirable mental states as the result of emotional abuse. Common actions leading to emotional abuse include, but are not limited to, verbal threats or insults, and passive behavior such as ignoring a patient’s requests. In some cases, emotional abuse can lead to avoidable physical ailments.

Financial Exploitation of Nursing Home Patients

Whether due to poor eyesight, or increasing confusion and dementia, residents of nursing homes are more frequent targets of financial exploitation. The three most common types of elder financial abuse are theft, scams, and healthcare fraud. Loved ones of nursing home patients should be aware of unexpected changes to wills or powers of attorney, disappearance of personal property or money, or unexpected changes to credit cards or withdrawal information.

Patients’ Rights

Federal and state law protect the rights of patients in assisted living facilities. Rhode Island, under the Assisted Living Residence Licensing Act, protects such patients’ rights as the right to:

  • be free from verbal, sexual, physical, emotional, and mental abuse,
  • be free from any physical or chemical restraints,
  • and have personal privacy in all medical treatments, written or telephone communications, personal care, visits, and meetings.

(R.I. § 23-17.4-16.)

The federal law regulating nursing homes, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 (“OBRA”), requires nursing homes to “provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practical physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being” for each resident.

Contact the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC about Your Nursing Home Abuse Case

Attorney Mike Bottaro represents nursing home abuse victims throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. If you have been involved in an elder abuse or neglect case, contact Mike to discuss your case today.