What to Do When You Suspect Physical Assault of a Nursing Home Resident

Nursing homes should be the safest place for elderly people who are unable to continue caring for themselves. In many cases, they are. There are many quality nursing homes which do an excellent job of taking care of the elderly and infirm in their charge. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Nursing home physical assault happens more often than most of us would like to imagine.

The elderly are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and deserve a safe, secure place to live. When a nursing home fails to provide a safe environment, they should be held accountable, both civilly and (when appropriate) criminally. If you are aware of physical assault in a nursing home, report it. If it happened to your loved one, consult a lawyer who specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect.

Signs that Point to Nursing Home Assault

Unfortunately, you can not always count on nursing home residents to let you know if an assault has occurred. In some cases, nursing home assaults go unreported because the victims are incapable (due to dementia or other medical/mental conditions) of expressing what has happened. In other cases, victims of assault in a nursing home may be afraid of being hurt again if they tell. Still others may fear that making someone aware of nursing home assault would cause too much of a burden.

Here are some of the signs you should look out for: 

  • Unexplained injuries. Any injury should have reasonable documentation explaining how it occurred. 
  • Frequent injuries. Even if injuries are documented, you should become suspicious if they are frequent. Adequate care and supervision of nursing home residents should prevent frequent injuries. Neglecting to prevent injuries is also a form of physical abuse. 
  • Symmetric injuries. If your loved one has injuries or bruises occurring on the same general area of the body, on both left and right sides of the body, it is a potential sign of nursing home assault and systematic abuse. 
  • Broken possessions, especially eyeglasses. If your loved ones’ possessions are not being respected, or if they are being broken, someone may be trying to intimidate them. Worst case, your loved one may be the victim of an assault in the nursing home.
  • Caregivers refuse to allow you access to your loved one alone. If the nursing home staff doesn’t want to see your loved one alone, it should raise a red flag. 
  • Your loved one (or anyone else in the nursing home) tells you of an assault. If your loved one actually tells you a nursing home assault has taken place, take it very seriously. Report it immediately, take steps to put your loved one somewhere safer, and consult a lawyer regarding possible damages you may be entitled to.
  • Sudden, unexplained behavioral changes. Sometimes these are just the signs of advancing dementia or other conditions, but sometimes they are the result of a nursing home assault or other abuse/neglect which your loved one is afraid to tell you about directly.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Loved One Has Been Assaulted in a Nursing Home

First and foremost, take steps to ensure your loved one’s safety. If you have significant reason to believe your loved one has suffered an assault and the nursing home has not addressed it to your (and your loved one’s) satisfaction, remove him from the nursing home as soon as possible.

  1. Report the incident to the National Center on Elder Abuse and any related state agencies. 
  2. Report the incident to the police if a severe assault has taken place. 
  3. Consult a lawyer. Even if criminal charges aren’t filed (and they often aren’t in nursing home assault cases), you may be entitled to civil damages. Often, this is the only way to hold abusive or neglectful nursing homes accountable. 

If you suspect abuse at a nursing home, call the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm. In addition to the criminal charges which may be brought against the perpetrators, you and your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages incurred. The lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm specialize in elder care law and will help ensure that the abuse does not continue and that your loved one receives adequate care. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.