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What Kinds of Abuse can Take Place at a Maryland Nursing Home?

There are numerous types of nursing home abuse. In fact, the following list of negligent treatment or outright abuse can also take place at assisted living and elder care facilities, and even in a geriatric ward of a Maryland hospital. Regardless of the location, the following are common types of abuse that often happen to senior citizens residing in elder care settings:

  • Basic Neglect; includes refusal or failure to provide food, standard healthcare procedures or physical care, such as bathing, dressing or feeding
  • Physical Abuse; recognized as the infliction, or threat of physical pain or bodily injury. The level of this kind of abuse can even rise to the commission of a violent act on the nursing home resident
  • Emotional/Verbal Abuse; while not physically injurious, the infliction of mental distress or anguish via verbal and non-verbal actions should never be ignored. This type of abuse can be a common occurrence at nursing homes and elder care facilities and include the use of insulting, degrading, threatening or aggressive language
  • Sexual Abuse; defined as any non-consensual physical contact that is sexual in nature
  • Exploitation; this kind of elder abuse can happen in assisted living facilities where staff or others wrongfully use or take property belonging to the victim. This can include the stealing of money; illegal or fraudulent appropriation of an elderly person’s assets or financial resources; or any taking of the victim’s valuables through the use of deception, coercion, duress, undue influence or false pretense

Being able to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse can be important for those who have an elderly family member in one of the many elder care facilities throughout the state of Maryland. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we understand how overwhelming it can be to suspect that a loved one is suffering from abuse in the very place that is supposed to assist them in their latter stages of life. The following is a list of telltale signs that an elderly individual may be experiencing nursing home abuse:

  • Unsanitary Conditions; dirty clothing, soiled bed sheets and bath towels, generally unclean living conditions
  • Unsafe or hazardous living conditions
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Evidence of malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Bed sores and infections
  • Lack of care for medical problems
  • Not providing necessary medication
  • Frequent bruising, cuts, welts or minor wounds
  • Unexplained occurrences of physical injuries
  • Use of unreasonable/unnecessary physical restraint
  • Confinement to his or her room
  • Unexplained over-medication or unapproved administration of psychotropic medications
  • Reports by the victim or another nursing home resident of being slapped, pushed, shaken, beaten or other kinds of mistreatment

Aside from physical mistreatment and other obvious signs of bodily injury, residents of nursing homes can experience verbal or emotional abuse at the hands of staff or other residents. Some of the signs of these kinds of abuse may include:

  • Resident is often in an agitated state or frequently appears emotionally upset
  • Loss of self esteem or reduced sense of personal worth
  • Uncharacteristically withdrawn or quiet
  • Odd behaviors such as rocking while sitting, biting fingernails or sucking on his or her thumb
  • Unusually angry with family members or staff; acting out aggressively toward others; using insults, threats or “the silent treatment”
  • Craving isolation from family, friends and people in general

Sexual abuse in nursing homes and senior care facilities is another common problem. The legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, has the training and experience needed to assist families in pursuing legal recourse in such situations. However, loved ones can often miss the subtle, and sometimes even the obvious cues that indicate some kind of sexual misconduct on the part of nursing home staff or other residents. Here are a few signs to be aware of when sexual abuse of an elderly loved one is suspected:

  • Angry or scared reaction to a particular nursing home staff member, especially during toileting activities or when the resident is assisted with bathing or dressing
  • Unexplained trouble with walking or sitting
  • Stained or bloody underclothing, often unexplainably torn or damaged
  • Soiled or blood-stained bedding
  • Bruising or redness around the breasts, inner thighs, buttocks, wrists or ankles, and genitals
  • Unexplained genital-area infections or detection of an STD (sexually transmitted disease)
  • Vaginal or anal bleeding

The professionals at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understand that elder abuse comes in many shapes and forms. One of the more common kind of abuse is when someone — a friend, relative or nursing home staff member — attempts to exploit an elderly person for monetary gain of some kind. Though sometimes difficult to recognize, the following are some signs of nursing home-related exploitation:

  • Unexplained disappearance of money, possessions or personal assets
  • Unauthorized changes to the elderly individual’s Last Will and Testament; Medical or Financial POA (Power of Attorney); or other unexplained changes to the victim’s legal or financial documents/information
  • Unusual or inexplicable monetary withdrawals from the victim’s bank accounts, or unexplained changes to bank account
  • Arrival of new and unexpected notices of delinquent financial obligations or other unpaid bills despite the victim’s access to (previously) adequate funds
  • Sudden and often unexplained reduction of provider care and services
  • Sudden jump in unnecessary services or care
  • Reports, either by the victim or another resident, that someone has apparently forged his or her signature on or cashed a check without prior approval or legal authorization

At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we empathize with families struggling to assist their elderly loved one during what can often be a sad and emotionally painful phase of life. Our legal team understands how easily someone in a nursing home can feel helpless and vulnerable. These feelings can be common even under the best of circumstances, so it is a terrible situation when the very people and institutions meant to assist the elderly turn against them and attempt to abuse, exploit and manipulate victims for their own personal gain.

If you suspect that an elderly friend or family member is experiencing some type of elder abuse in a nursing home, assisted living or senior care facility, please don’t hesitate to contact a qualified legal professional to better understand their right to protection under the laws of the State of Maryland. We welcome inquiries from concerned family members, who may contact us for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

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