Assisted living facilities (ALFs) are different than nursing homes in that ALF residents typically require less care than nursing home residents. Assisted living residents are generally more capable of handling daily activities such as grooming, eating, and transferring from place to place. In some states, assisted living facilities are not permitted to tend to residents who require extended periods of bed rest.
While assisted living facilities differ from nursing homes, assisted living residents may still be victim to abuse. It is important for assisted living residents and their family members are aware of what goes on in an assisted living facility. In cases of assisted living abuse, residents and their families should seek an elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible.
Types of Assisted Living Abuse
Assisted living abuse may occur as physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Additionally, residents suffer assisted living abuse when they are the victim of neglect or financial exploitation. In some cases, family members of the resident may be the cause of assisted living abuse.
Assisted living abuse includes:
Physical Abuse: Physical abuse includes unwarranted physical harm such as slapping, hitting, pushing, or kicking. Improper use of restraints and excessive restraints are also included. Physical abuse occurs when the resident is denied food or drinks, or forced to consume certain foods or drinks.
Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse occurs when an individual engages in non-consensual sexual acts with an assisted living resident.
Psychological Abuse: Psychological abuse may occur as verbal assault, harassment, bullying, and degradation. Psychological abuse may also occur as “babying” a resident or giving the “silent treatment” as a result of undesired actions.
Neglect: When an assisted living facility is understaffed, residents may be the victim of neglect. Neglected residents may experience dehydration, malnourishment, or injuries such as rashes or sores. The living quarters of neglected residents may be dirty with a foul odor.
Financial Exploitation: Financial exploitation occurs when an assisted living resident is taken advantage of financially. This may include the unpermitted use of the resident’s money or property for the benefit of another.
Recognizing Assisted Living Abuse
In many cases, assisted living abuse can go unrecognized for long periods of time. Those whose loved ones reside in assisted living facilities should visit often. Victims of assisted living abuse will often keep these details to themselves. Hiding information may be caused by embarrassment, fear, or the inability to report abuse due to disability, frailty, or lack of phone access. There are certain signs that family members should look for to identify assisted living abuse of their loved ones.
Signs of assisted living abuse may include:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, or other injuries
- Pressure sores, or bed sores
- Unexplained weight loss
- Rapid health or mental capacity deterioration
- Fearful or intimidated attitude
- Poor hygiene or unsanitary living conditions
- Depression, withdrawal, or changes in social behavior
- Excessive use of chemical or physical restraints
Residents or family members who suspect assisted living abuse should take action to stop it. In some cases, filing a complaint with the facility may resolve the issue. However, some residents are victims of extreme assisted living abuse that requires removal from the assisted living facility. In severe cases, assisted living abuse victims may require medical attention to treat physical or psychological harm.
Reporting the Incident
If severe assisted living abuse occurs in a facility, residents or their family members should report the incidence to the state’s long-term care ombudsman. The state’s long-term care ombudsman is responsible for investigating reports of abuse in long-term care facilities. The ombudsman may contact the adult protective services agency on behalf of the victim. If not, the residents or family members should do so.
Filing a Lawsuit
After the resident is out of immediate danger, an assisted living abuse lawyer should be contacted immediately. An assisted living abuse lawyer can help discuss the legal rights of the victim and victim’s family. Assisted living laws vary from state to state.
A qualified assisted living abuse lawyer can inform clients of when and how to go about filing a lawsuit according to each state’s laws. An assisted living abuse lawyer can help victims and their families receive financial compensation to cover medical bills and the pain and suffering caused by the assisted living abuse.
“Abuse & Neglect In Nursing Homes & Residential Care/Assisted Living Facilities.” CANHR. California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.canhr.org/abuse
“Elder Abuse in the News.” ALFA. Assisted Living Federation of America. Web. 28 May 2013. <http://www.alfa.org/alfa/Elder_Abuse_News.asp>.
“Elder Financial Exploitation.” NAPSA. National Adult Protective Services Association. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.napsa-now.org/policy-advocacy/world-elder-abuse-awareness-day/
“What Is Abuse?.” NAPSA. National Adult Protective Services Association. Web. 31 May 2013. http://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/what-is-abuse/
“What Is Neglect?.” NAPSA. National Adult Protective Services Association. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/what-is-neglect/