Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) Janury 28, 2015 — Elder abuse is not just committed by strangers. Family members may be guilty of it.
Abuse is not just manifested in physically slapping, hitting or punching someone. It also may involve, but not be limited to: sexual abuse, emotional, mental, psychological and physical abuse. Additionally, abuse can involve what may be referred to as silent exploitation, by neglecting a senior’s needs, financially or materially exploiting them, abandoning them to their own devices, or imposing involuntary seclusion on elder patients.
Although many of these forms of abuse occur within the four walls of a nursing facility, more often members of a patient’s own family commit such behavior. Consider stark stories involving abuse, such as an older nursing home resident whose family member came to be with them every day, ensuring staff provided all appropriate medical care. Oddly, serious bruises kept appearing on the senior. The family member was hitting the resident every day.
Now, consider the case of an older Alzheimers’ patient, a woman in her early 70s who began to demonstrate compulsive and repetitive hand washing, for hours on end. It seemed to intensify after one of the male nurses was on night shift duty. It turned out he had been sexually abusing the resident each night by getting her to manually masturbate him while she lay in bed. She had no recall of the incidents, but her manic behavior indicated something was dreadfully wrong.
The children of a nursing home resident with a disability seemed to be a very special group. The three would attend the nursing home every day, in different shifts and were highly involved in their mother’s care. They made sure she got anything she wanted or needed. The staff could not figure out why the woman spent most of her time cowering in her room.
Apparently all three of the children habitually screamed obscenities at their mother that usually involved telling her she was worthless and stupid, and deserved to be left alone. The abuse did not stop there. The children were also slowly draining the mother’s bank account on a weekly basis, spending the money she needed to pay for her care in the nursing facility.
Abuse can also take the form of family dropping a relative off at a nursing home after being admitted and never returning to see them. In these instances, relatives do not return phone calls about their parent’s health issues, do not attend case management meetings and do not visit. The emotional impact this has on a resident is significant and can result in severe depression and redirected hostility, more so in those with dementia.
“Although caring for an elderly relative may be taxing, frustrating and depressing, no matter how you feel about the situation, do not take it out on them,” says Arkansas nursing home abuse attorney Michael Smith. “We all have to take responsibility for caring for our elders. It is just the right thing to do.”
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