What Can You Do If Your Elderly Relative Is Abused – Your Nursing Home Injury Lawyer

 By William Bill Hurst

Nursing home neglect is a reality facing many well meaning families that have or will trust nursing home facilities with the care of their elderly loved ones.  Despite laws in almost every State, nursing homes frequently fail to properly care for the elderly .According to the National Center for Health Statistics nearly 1.5 million Americans are currently living in nursing or assisted living facilities with 90% of these facilities being understaffed.  As a result, these facilities often do not adequately or consistently meet the basic care requirements of their elderly and disabled residents.  Often their failures to protect and properly care for the elderly and infirm are either under- reported or simply not reported at all.  Even the maximum fines that can be levied against the facilities for this neglect are insufficient to pose any deterrent for future misconduct, i.e. the facilities find it “cheaper” to pay fins than increase payrolls to provide care.  Family members of loved ones who are nursing home residents must be vigilant and become an advocate for their elderly or disabled relative.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC), another agency studying the elderly and their care, notes that currently in the United States there are over 16,000 nursing homes with almost 2,000,000 beds.  The total occupancy rate is currently at 86%.  www.cdc.gov/nchs/ The average length of time for each admission is 835 days.  It is reported that more than 30% of all nursing homes experience some form of residence abuse, whether its by staff or other residents.   In 1999 approximately 5,000 deaths may have been due to nursing home negligent care.  Some of these failures included starvation, dehydration or bedsores.   Unfortunately  more than 50% of the current nursing home residents don’t have close relatives; and therefore no one to advocate for them and watch out for neglect or abuse.  In 2001 one of every four nursing homes received a citation for causing serious personal injury or death to a patient.  www.mastersinhealthcare.com/…/ 15-shocking-statistics-on-nursing-homes/

When  you’re placing a family member in a nursing home you, should do a computer search for nursing home complaints against the particular facility that you’re interested in.  You will find there are several websites that review nursing care facilities.  This will help minimize the risk for loved ones who may need some extra care and give you some “peace of mind”.  Not all nursing homes provide the same level of benefits;  and thankfully there are a  number of websites created by the government agencies that respond to nursing home complaints in your State that keep records to be reviewed by the public.  A good resource in locating these agencies and sites is www.skillednursing-home-complaints-search/skillednursing homefacilities.org/blog…/nursing-home-statistics/

Neglect of the elderly is not just in America but is a problem throughout the world.  The Care Quality Commission (CQC) which researches elderly care in England likewise notes that the research conducted by them “paints a picture” of shameful inhumanity.  The CQC found that elderly patients are often not helped to eat or drink and are too often left lying in soiled clothing, and reduced to “rattling their bed bars” to attract attention as calls for help go unheeded.  The Commission (CQC) indicates that 1 in 5 hospitals providing nursing care for older patients is so bad that it is “breaking the law”  and fully 40% of the facilities fall short of the basic levels of dignity and respect due the infirm patients.  The most recent report in 2010 notes and statistically is similar to an investigation conducted in England 4 years before which determined the frequency of “shameful neglect”.  www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading

As our population ages there will be more and more people who are going into assisted living and nursing home facilities.  In Indiana there are over 700,000 aged 65 or over and that number is growing.  Each year more than 40,000 cases of elder abuse and neglect are reported in Indiana; and it is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases are reported.  Elder abuse happens everywhere and to everyone, in poor, middle class and upper income households, in cities and rural areas.

It is a problem that has no demographic boundaries.  It is estimated that 80% of the care provided for the elderly is given by family members.  Ironically the abuser is often a family member who takes on the responsibility of care with the best of intentions but due to the inevitable financial or emotional stress loses control.  These people are often reluctant to seek help because they fear loss of family ties; or they may simply not know about the services available to them through the Indiana Adult Protective Services and similar agencies in other states.  In 1985 the Adult Protective Services Unit was established to investigate reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of endangered adults.  These adults are defined as any person over the age of 18 who is incapable by reason of an infirmity or incapacitation of managing their own property.  Our most recent data indicates that Indiana is expected to have more residents age 65 and over by the year 2035 than those under the age of 15.  In 2000 roughly 12% of the State’s population was 65 years or older and that percentage is steadily climbing, and is expected to reach 21% by 2040.

The new population projections by the Indiana Business Research Center assessed by Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business indicates that by the year 2040 one in every five Indiana residents will be age 65 or over.  While the growth or rate of Hoosiers 65 and older will be modest in the next few years, the number will nearly double in the next four decades.  Between 753,000 in 2000 to 48,000,000 in 2040.  The population projections are a component used for determining whether hospitals or schools will be built and where shopping centers and homes will be located.  The shape of our lives tomorrow will be influenced by these projections.  These projections may be seen at http://www.ibrc.indiana.edu

So what do the reported cases of abuse consist of?  It is reported that some elderly residents in nursing homes experience not only physical but also psychological abuse.  Bruises and injuries are obvious but the emotional and mental suffering caused by psychological abuse is not always apparent.  Any number of abuses have been cited, for example:

  • Leaving elders dirty
  • Not shaved
  • Dirty fingernails and greasy hair
  • No assistance with feeding or giving medicines
  • No assistance with hygiene, which may result in infections and diseases
  • Not responding to lights and buzzers or calls for aid
  • No assistance when elders are walking which could lead to serious falls
  • Failure to turn residents in their beds leading to pressure sores
  • Failure to take residents to the toilet and leaving them in soiled garments
  • Slapping or other physical abuse
  • Emotional or verbal abuse of the resident
  • Retaliation for making complaints
  • Failure to provide for appropriate medical care
  • Sexual assaults or rape of the residents
  • Theft of the residents’ money or other personal property
  • Forging checks

Inattention by caregivers leads to loneliness and feelings of desolation.  The mental abuse id often not obvious but its impact is severe and profound, especially for those with emotional issues and psychological illnesses; e.g., elderly with Dementia and Alzheimers.  For sites on how to understand and lessen the elderly’s feelings of loneliness and loss from being separated from their family (and to monitor and evaluate the quality of care that your parents are getting) see www.agingparentandseniorcare.com/common-abuses-in-elder- (add to this).


All of our Indiana citizens must play a part in protecting the elderly.  In the event you ever witness any elder abuse please you must immediately call the Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-992-6978.  To review Indiana laws and statutes related to elder abuse and the role of Adult Protective Services in protecting them see I.C. 12-10-3-1 through 12-10-3-31.  For a resource for searching senior care facilities in Indiana see www.aplaceformom.com/indiana-senior-care/ (get the rest of it)  This website has more than 1,730 senior care options to choose from.  Another resource for searching facilities is the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging at www.iaaaa.org.  The Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging (IAAAA) advocates for quality programs and services for elderly adults and persons with disabilities on behalf of Indiana’s 16 area agencies on aging.

Indiana has 510 certified Medicare/Medicaid nursing homes with a total of 49,787 available beds. To review these by city see www.skillednursing facilities.org/directory/in/  The Indiana State Department of Health, Long Term Care Division, makes nursing home survey information available to consumers to help evaluate the quality of care provided in Indiana’s Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes.  The Division inspects nursing homes at least every 9 to 15 months to assess compliance, the quality of care and cleanliness.   To compare facilities and determine the scores you may go to www.in.gov/isdh/reports/ QAAMIS/reptcrd/rptcrd1.htm

If you believe that you have a claim for neglect and injury on behalf of a loved one against a nursing home or assisted living facility for the elderly or disabled contact William W. Hurst immediately at 800-363-0808 for a free consultation.  We will advise you of your legal rights and if we represent your family we only charge a fee if we are successful.

See our websites: https://www.https://billhurst.com/m and http://www.indianapolisabogado.com

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Indianapolis Personal Injury Law William W. Hurst
William W. Hurst

Bill Hurst has successfully represented hundreds of accident victims, and has limited his practice to personal injury cases for over thirty-five (35) years.

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