Nursing Home Abuse FAQs
The American population is rapidly aging, primarily due to Baby Boomers entering their senior years. According to the United States Census Bureau, all Baby Boomers will be over the age of 65 by 2030, which will result in 1 of every 5 US residents being of retirement age. By 2035, older individuals will outnumber young people for the first time in history, with 78.0 million people 65 years of age and older compared to 76.7 million under age 18. As such, issues that affect seniors will continue to be pushed to the forefront of our national consciousness.
One of the most serious of those issues is nursing home abuse. An aging population means that more people will be living in nursing homes, which also means that more people will be at risk of suffering abuse in them. When that happens, you may want to pursue legal action against the parties who are responsible.
Below are some of the most common questions the lawyers at the Evans Law Firm receive about nursing home abuse, as well as our brief answers to them.
How Widespread is this Problem?
Likely more widespread than you think, unfortunately. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that roughly 10% of seniors nationwide suffer physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect at some point in their lives. What is even more troubling is another study finding that elder abuse is widely underreported. According to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, only about one in 24 cases of elder abuse are reported to the proper authorities.
How Can I Tell if Nursing Home Abuse is Occurring?
One of the most frustrating aspects of nursing home abuse is that many of its victims are either unaware that it is happening or are unable to report it. Family members should thus familiarize themselves with red flags that can indicate that nursing home abuse is occurring and stay vigilant in watching for them. Some of the most common signs that a nursing home resident is suffering from abuse or neglect include:
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Physical injuries such as bruises, cuts, broken bones, bed sores/pressure ulcers, and infections
- Unclean or unsanitary living conditions
- Wandering and elopement incidents
- Signs of sexual assault or rape
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Changes in mood and demeanor or otherwise appearing “not quite themselves”
- Nursing home staff who are reluctant to leave them alone with family members or friends
What Legal Remedies Are Available for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse?
The law looks very disfavorably upon those who prey upon the elderly and provides a variety of remedies, both civil and criminal, to victims of nursing home abuse. In the civil realm, actions against nursing homes for injuries to residents are often based in negligence, such as negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent maintenance. They can also be based in theories of medical malpractice and breach of contract. For nursing home abuse that involves intentional harm to residents, California law provides for the award of punitive damages, which are available in cases where the defendant is found to be guilty of “oppression, fraud, or malice.” For more information about legal remedies for nursing home abuse, contact a San Francisco nursing home abuse lawyer.
Contact a California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
For more information about any of these topics, please contact the nursing home abuse lawyers at the Evans Law Firm by calling 415-441-8669.