Assisted Living Facility Abuse
Residents of assisted living facilities are vulnerable. While some are working hard to recover from illness or injuries, others are long-term residents who require around the clock care. All are dependent on the care they receive from nurses and staff, from hygiene and personal care tasks to socializing and physical therapy. Most assisted living facilities do a great job of hiring well-trained, responsible staff and nurses, however, sometimes poor hiring decisions are made that could have a major impact on the care of residents. Tampa assisted living facility abuse lawyers work hard to protect the rights of assisted living facility residents as families deal with the ramifications of abuse and neglect.
Assisted living facility abuse is a serious problem in Florida. As our population continues to age, it’s important that we as a society work to stamp out this problem. In order to do that, abuse must be reported and prosecuted and new regulations must be put in place to further protect those at risk. This not only requires victims and their families to speak up and share their stories, but to also seek legal avenues to protect themselves and their resources.
Assisted living facilities earn money by keeping their beds full. Sometimes, when a family tries to remove a resident because of suspicions of abuse, an assisted living facility may block efforts, hinder an investigation, or challenge family members’ suspicions. During this time, the assisted living facility continues to make money—sometimes even offering treatment to remedy the effects of abuse or neglect caused within their facility.
Because of the nature of assisted living facilities, most have dealt with accusations of abuse or neglect, whereas most families with loved ones in facilities have not. This disadvantages families and gives facilities an upper hand in negotiations. Thankfully, a skilled assisted living facility abuse lawyer who specializes in elder care can assist with the process and help families as they try to move forward.
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Type of Assisted Living Facility Abuse
Abuse can take many forms. Because of their vulnerability, elderly residents of assisted living facilities are especially susceptible. Assisted living facility abuse can take the form of:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological or emotional abuse
- Financial abuse or exploitation
- Sexual abuse
When an assisted living facility fails to meet a resident’s medical or basic needs, they are guilty of neglect. Neglect, whether willful or unintentional, can have deadly consequences. Patients who do not receive their medications, food, or drink, can face increased medical problems and even death. Those who are left unbathed or in an unhygienic state can become more ill or face new medical problems.
Physical abuse can lead to dangerous injuries as well as a sense of embarrassment, shame, and/or weakness. Those who suffer severe physical abuse may require medical treatment for broken bones or worse.
Psychological or emotional abuse can be verbal or nonverbal and can deteriorate a patient’s feelings of self-worth. It can include insults, isolation, and threats. It debases and demeans a resident and can affect their personality and behavior, causing them to withdraw or lash out at others.
Financial abuse or exploitation involves the misuse of a resident’s possessions or financial resources for purposes that do not benefit or have nothing to do with the resident. Forging checks, stealing cash, forcing a resident to change legal documents such as a will, or taking control over a resident’s bank accounts are all types of financial abuse.
Sexual abuse of an assisted living facility resident is the unlawful and unwanted sexual contact between the resident and a staff member, a visitor, or another resident.
Signs of Assisted Living Facility Abuse
Assisted living facilities aim to provide a safe place for elderly residents to receive medical assistance and personal care. They provide an affordable alternative to around-the-clock in-home care and generally advertise the expertise and compassion of their staff. Unfortunately, some assisted living facilities are understaffed, have hired negligent or dangerous caretakers, or may be home to abusive residents.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of assisted living facility abuse, look for these signs:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Chapped lips, unwashed or uncombed hair, and soiled clothing
- Cuts, welts, bedsores, or bruises
- Unexplained injuries such as broken bones
- Missing belongings or cash
- Uncharacteristic affect
- Mood swings or outbursts
- Unwarranted fears, anxiety, or anger
While this is not a conclusive list, it covers some of the physical and behavioral signs that your loved one may be in a negative situation. Bringing your suspicions to management may help alleviate the situation is some cases. If your fears go unaddressed, it may be time to move your loved one.
How to Deal with Assisted Living Facility Abuse
If you believe your loved one is a victim of assisted living facility abuse, immediately remove them from the situation and seek medical attention if necessary. Report abuse to the proper authorities and seek legal counsel.
Finding a new assisted living facility may be difficult after suffering abuse at another facility. Therapy and an in-home caregiver may be needed to help an abused individual recover so they will be comfortable in a new facility.
Consulting with an Assisted Living Facility Abuse Lawyer
Assisted living facility abuse and neglect can not only cause physical harm to a resident, it can scar them emotionally as well. Abuse and neglect can result in emotional or psychological issues, need for further medical treatment, and loss of dignity or property. Those who have suffered at the hands of another deserve to have someone fighting for their rights.
An assisted living facility abuse lawyer helps families by negotiating with assisted living facilities, seeking compensation through the civil court system, and helping ensure important documents like a power of attorney are appropriately filed. They help hold assisted living facilities accountable for their negligence in their hiring or health care practices.
As you help your loved one recover from the abuse or neglect they’ve suffered, an assisted living facility abuse lawyer can help by providing you with legal options and advice, creating or revising legal documents such as wills and power of attorneys, and estate planning.