People who abuse residents in nursing homes sometimes take advantage of the residents’ illnesses to cover up their abuse. Elderly people who are the victims of abuse may not report the abuse even when they do not have the added disadvantage of having these serious conditions. If a resident suffers from a disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, he or she may not report incidents of abuse because he or she may not be able to remember the abuse. As a result, the rate of abuse is higher in patients who suffer from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
More vigilance is required to ensure that a nursing home resident who suffers from an illness that affects his or her mental ability is not also the victim of abuse. Sometimes, this is difficult because the symptoms of the illness can mask other signs of abuse, or because the condition leads to the resident harming him or herself. For example, a resident who suffers from a psychiatric illness with violent episodes may psychically hurt him or herself and have bruises on his or her body that are not caused by physical abuse.
Patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia may also need to be protected in other ways. They may not be able to care for themselves, forget to eat, wander off from the nursing home, or otherwise get into dangerous situations. It is important for the nursing home to take appropriate steps to ensure the resident does not get hurt. Failing to take these steps could be neglect on the part of the nursing home.
If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or another illness that may make him or her more likely to be a target for an abuser, there are some steps you can take to try and protect him or her in a nursing home. Initially, as much as possible, try to investigate the nursing home and ensure that staff members are specially trained to deal with the type of illness the resident has. Training can reduce the instance of abuse that may be caused by staff misunderstanding and becoming frustrated with a person who is suffering from a serious illness.
In addition, you can take over the resident’s finances to reduce the risk of financial abuse. Some people set up provisions in advanced care directives that transfer power of attorney over their finances if they are incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for themselves. For other residents, their next of kin or another person legally responsible for them may be able to petition a court for the right to take care of the finances in order to protect the residents’ interests.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
As with all nursing home abuse cases, it is important to move quickly when you suspect abuse in order to ensure that the resident does not suffer any additional harm. For more information on how you can seek compensation from a nursing home or a specific caregiver on behalf of a nursing home resident who has been the victim of abuse or neglect in Atlanta, contact Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. to speak to an attorney today.