As we age, it’s natural to require a little extra help with our daily routines. So it comes as no surprise when our elder loved ones ask us for assistance. Unfortunately, there may come a time when we simply cannot provide the help they need. When that time comes, it’s time to start seeking out a nursing home for our loved ones. But the process of finding the right home can be overwhelming and emotional.
As a family member, you want to ensure that your loved one is safe, comfortable, and well-cared for in their new home. The last thing you want to expose your loved one to is the pandemic of nursing home abuse that has steadily crept through Chicago and the US.
But there is no ignoring the problem. Rather, we must learn all we can to better advocate for our loved ones.
Nursing Home Abuse: Types, Signs, and Effects
Nursing home abuse takes several insidious forms. Each style has its warning signs, but not all signs are immediately obvious. Don’t feel guilty if it takes you time to realize abuse is happening. Simply do what you can to help your loved one once you become aware.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elderly abuse can be accidental or malicious. But each form has its own consequences. These forms include:
Common Warning Signs
If the abuse is malicious, the abuser may be good at hiding their tracks. But some issues cannot be hidden. These signs include:
- Unexplained injuries
- Bed sores and infections
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Anxiety, depression, or fear
- Sudden gain or loss of weight
- Poor hygiene
And this is only a sample! Abuse of any form can lead to lasting physical effects, mental trauma, and even death.
The effects on our loved ones aren’t the only warning signs. Check on the staff as well. Are they:
- Properly trained
While some abuse is malicious, other instances of abuse are due to managerial failures. As a client, you are in a position of power to advocate for better practices to management, especially if you bring in legal aid or contact a nursing home abuse organization to investigate.
How to Fight Elderly Abuse in Nursing Homes
Now that you know the main types of abuse and have a good foundation of things to watch for, it’s time to learn about the fight.
Vetting Nursing Homes and Staying Active
The best thing you can do for your elderly relative is to thoroughly research potential nursing homes and stay active in their lives.
Once your relative has taken residence, visit often and keep track of their situation and health.
Get to know the staff and make sure the nursing home is running well and they feel adequately supported. Make sure any new injuries are known and documented. If your loved one is lucid, talk to them. See how they’re doing, and ask about their experiences.
Organizations like Nursing Home Abuse, Nursing Home Abuse Justice, and more are working to push for better legislation and regulation for nursing homes and more ways to hold managerial staff accountable for hiring and training practices. They also seek to stiffen criminal penalties and punitive damages.
Reporting the Abuse
If you have even the slightest reason to suspect abuse, you need to report it to the proper authorities. You can start with the above organizations, as they will help you identify the best places to report. You can also reach out to the Illinois branch of Adult Protective Services.
Seeking Legal Aid
Another source of fighting the good fight is locating Chicago lawyers who care about the safety of nursing home residents. They can help in multiple ways, from helping you submit reports to advising you on ways to advocate for nursing home regulation. And in the event that your loved one becomes a victim, they can help you build your case and represent you through the entire claims process.
Suing nursing home staff for neglect isn’t about a payday. It’s about holding abusers and enablers responsible and getting compensation to help cover your loved one’s new medical expenses or, heaven forbid, funeral costs.
If your loved one has become a victim of nursing home abuse, it’s your duty to seek justice for them. Hold the perpetrators accountable and get enough compensation to help your loved one recover. A Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer can help.
How Litigation Typically Goes
Suppose you’re pursuing a lawsuit against the abuser. Here’s what you can expect for the litigation process:
- If an attorney determines a valid case, they will file a complaint in the appropriate court. This document outlines the allegations against the responsible parties and explains the legal basis for the lawsuit. The complaint is then served to the defendants.
- The defendants have a designated period to respond to the complaint, typically 20 to 30 days. They may admit or deny the allegations and might file counterclaims if they believe the plaintiff has some liability.
- Next comes the discovery phase, where both parties exchange relevant information, documents, and evidence. Depositions may be taken from witnesses, including the victim, caregivers, medical professionals, and others who can provide insights into the case.
- Before going to trial, the parties might pursue mediation to settle the case out of court. A neutral mediator helps facilitate negotiations between both sides to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. If none can be made, the case proceeds to trial. Before that, both sides may file pre-trial motions to address issues like evidence admissibility or the scope of the trial.
- The trial involves presenting evidence, calling witnesses, and making arguments before a judge and jury. Each side presents its case, and they will determine liability and damages if applicable.
- Once the trial concludes, the judge or jury delivers a verdict. If the plaintiff wins, the court will determine the compensation or relief owed to the victim.
The process seems daunting. But as a Dallas nursing home abuse lawyer declared, your loved one’s suffering deserves to be addressed. Consult an attorney and discuss your options today.