Few decisions can be as difficult and agonizing as placing an aging parent or loved one into Assisted Living or a Nursing Home. We place an enormous amount of trust in others to provide the care that either we are not qualified to provide, or which allows the balance we need in our own lives to pursue demanding careers and/or parenting of our own families. A decision to place our precious elderly loved ones in institutional care does not come without an attempt to find the best care available within the financial constraints of available resources.
Many care facilities present a serene, almost pastoral image in marketing brochures and during tours, which will leave you with the impression that your loved ones will enjoy “country club” living, and a high standard of care. Unfortunately, the reality of life in many facilities stands in stark contrast to the image presented before you committed your loved ones to their care.
Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities are “for profit” entities, who will attempt to minimize costs, and maximize profits from the fees paid. This may result in inadequate staffing, or underqualified staffing, or staff members who are not carefully background-checked before hiring, with the result that in all too many cases, the promised care doesn’t match the marketing claims. In many unfortunate situations it crosses the line into neglect and abuse of the residents.
Recognizing neglect and abuse
When visiting loved ones who reside in nursing homes or assisted care facilities, there are some telltale signs that abuse may be occurring. Look for the following:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts or burns
- Bedsores on back, buttocks or legs
- Weight loss due to dehydration or malnutrition
- Over medication or sedation
- Unusual confinement, such as being closed off in a room, or being tied to furniture
- Lack of cleanliness, grooming, or dental hygiene
- Fear of speaking in presence of caretaker
- Anxiety, confusion, withdrawal, depression
- Loss of possessions
While one or two of the above may occur on occasion, if you notice trends in any combination you may need to discuss your concerns with a Nursing Home Abuse lawyer to determine if further action may be necessary. Care facilities may be sued civilly if a pattern of abuse or neglect becomes evident.
Nevada laws regarding elder abuse in nursing homes
In addition to civil liabilities, elder abuse is a crime in Nevada. Nevada law identifies five areas of possible abuse which relate to care facilities or individuals who are primary caregivers for the elderly. They are:
- Abandonment – defined as desertion or “withdrawal of necessary assistance” of an older person in an unsafe manner by a caregiver.
- Abuse – means willful infliction of pain or injury; deprivation of food, shelter, clothing or necessary services; Infliction of psychological or emotional anguish, pain or distress; Non-consensual sexual contact with an older person
- Exploitation – an act taken by a person of trust to through guardianship or power of attorney to obtain control or take assets, money or property of an older person.
- Isolation – preventing contact with others by preventing visitors, blocking phone calls, receiving or sending mail; or by physically restraining the older person.
- Neglect – failure to provide food, shelter, clothing or services necessary to maintain the physical and emotional health of an older person, once a person or institution has assumed voluntary, legal, or contractual obligation for that person.
If you suspect such criminal actions are being taken by a caregiver or institution a report can be made to the Nevada Office of Aging and Disabilities Services at 888-729-0571, or a local police or sheriff’s department.
The Richard Harris Law Firm sues institutions which neglect, exploit, or abuse the elderly
Caring for an elderly family member is in many cases a challenging and demanding responsibility. It can be heart wrenching to commit our family members to the care of an institution, such as an Assisted Living facility or a Nursing Home. We expect when others are under legal or contractual obligation to provide care for our aging loved ones, that it be provided compassionately and humanely. When, due to intent or neglect, either abuse or exploitation occurs the lawyers of the Richard Harris Law Firm can provide you the legal support to hold those responsible for abuse accountable. If you are in this situation, call us today at (702) 444-4444.