Other Types of Abuse in Chicago Nursing Homes
Caregiver Abuse, Sexual Abuse, & Financial Abuse
Physical abuse and psychological abuse are among the most common forms of nursing home abuses. But there are of course, other problematic areas within both the confines of inpatient facilities and while at home care that cause pain, injury and sometimes death to patients. Some of these additional areas of concern include professional caregiver abuse, sexual abuse of elders, financial exploitation of the elderly, and Alzheimer's patient abuse. Below is some information on each of these different types of nursing home abuse.
What is Considered Professional Caregiver Abuse?
When relatives embark upon their journey to find professional nursing or convalescent care for their loved one, they want to find the best and safest caregivers. About 30% of the time, caregivers are unpaid and are comprised of family members such as children, parents, or siblings. Neighbors, church members, or other volunteers make up the ranks of these caregivers as well.
Most of the time however, caregivers are termed "professional caregivers" because they are paid employees that work for nursing homes, convalescent homes, inpatient facilities, hospitals, and doctors' offices. It should be expected that these professional caregivers would offer the highest degree of care and compassion for their patients. Unfortunately, this is most certainly not always the case.
Causes of Nursing Home Caregiver Abuse
Just like the population in general, professional caregivers have their own share of problems. They are not immune to depression, drug abuse, violent tendencies, laziness, untruthfulness, anxiety, or other psychiatric and psychological disorders. As a matter of fact, regardless of whether the caregiver is paid or unpaid, there is always the potential for abuse.
But, in addition to the natural tendencies and the shortcomings of the professional caregiver, an atmosphere of overwork, a lack of training, and the general stress involved with a job that has high expectations and long hours often leads to problems. The caregiver may feel like he or she is trapped, helpless, and undervalued. As a result, the caregiver may lash out at the patient.
What are Common Warning Signs of Caregiver Abuse?
If any of the following warning signs are present, it is possible that an abusive relationship is present or likely to develop. In such circumstances, the patient should be immediately removed from the care of the caregiver and one should consider contacting the authorities. Some of the warning signs include:
- Caregiver depression
- Resentful, poor attitude towards family
- Viewing the patient as an undue burden
- Low caregiver self-esteem
- Uncaring attitude towards elderly patient
Elder Victims of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Another particularly appalling abusive situation involves the sexual abuse of the elderly, infirm, or of other patients unable to properly care for themselves. Abusers often target the most helpless of patients including those with dementia and Alzheimer's. It often seems to be their theory that if they sexually abuse such a person, then the authorities and others will not believe that the abuse occurred.
Any initiation of sexual conduct with an elderly patient is considered elder sexual abuse when that contact is unwanted or nonconsensual. Although such sexual abuse can occur anywhere, unfortunately, it most often happens while in nursing homes. Some examples of elder sexual abuse include:
- Assault and battery of a sexual nature
- Nude photography
- Unwanted sexual touching
Such a touching or sexual assault is not only a basis for a civil lawsuit for money damages against the nursing facility, but is of course also a criminal act and should immediately be reported to the police and the Illinois Department of Public Health for further investigation.
Warning Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse
When an elderly or infirm person is taken advantage or abused sexually, there may be physical signs that such abuse is taking place. Other times, there may be no obvious physical signs at all, but rather psychological clues and other signs may appear. It is of the greatest importance that family and friends carefully and constantly monitor the patient to look for any such signs or clues. Some include:
- Social withdrawal or depression
- Unusual and abrupt changes in mood
- Bruises that appear on the breasts, thighs or genital area
- Vaginal bleeding
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
- Bloody clothing or undergarments
- Trouble sitting or walking
- Fear of caregiver or increased anxiety
Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
Whereas the elderly were at one time fully self-sufficient and able to care for themselves in all ways, many of the elderly in nursing homes are no longer able to do so. As such, nursing home residents often rely upon others to help them with a number of money and financial related activities. Unfortunately, many situations occur where caregivers or family members exert undue influence on the finances of the dependent person and take great advantage of the situation. Some examples include:
- Theft: Caregivers may steal personal items, jewelry, money or other items of value form the elderly person.
- Undue influence: The caregiver may exert their power over the elderly person to make them change their will, to give them power of attorney, or to add them to the patient's property deeds.
- Bank Withdrawals: The caregiver may steal checks, forge checks, or use the elderly patient's credit or debit cards to make unnecessary and unauthorized purchases.
Alzheimer's Patient Nursing Home Abuse
During the early stages of Alzheimer's, patients are still able to take care of themselves. A caregiver is really only needed to remind the patient of certain matters and to give occasional help in certain areas. But as the disease progresses into moderate and late stage Alzheimer's, the need for a specialized facility becomes more and more of a necessity. These specialized facilities, often called Alzheimer's Care Facilities of Memory Care Units, are specifically designed for such patients and intended to give specialized care for this disease as well as other forms of dementia.
Unfortunately, because Alzheimer's patients and others with different stages of dementia are more vulnerable, they are also at higher risk than others for abuse.
Speak to a Dedicated Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Chicago
For over 25 years, the experienced Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC has been helping the elderly and their families stand up for their rights and dignity. Those most at risk for abuse and neglect need a strong and aggressive partner to hold others accountable when they fail to protect the elderly. Millions of dollars have already been recovered for our clients and their families to help them through such trying times. Call us 24 hours a day at (800) 996-4824 if you believe a loved one has been harmed by another in any way. There is never a fee to discuss your situation.