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What’s the difference between nursing home abuse and neglect?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2022 | Nursing Home Abuse

A lot of people are nervous to help their elderly loved one enter a nursing home. After all, most of us have heard horror stories about the treatment received in these facilities. But all too often, these nursing homes put on a good face and provide reasonable care, most of the time. But it takes just one bad member of a nursing home staff to cause harmful nursing home abuse or neglect. What’s the difference between the two? Let’s take a closer look.

Nursing home abuse 

Nursing home abuse is common throughout the United States, including here in Virginia. But what, exactly, constitutes nursing home abuse? According to the CDC, nursing home abuse is any intentional act that results in harm or a serious risk of harm to a nursing home resident. That definition is broad, which means that many types of actions can constitute nursing home abuse, including:

  • Physical abuse, which includes the use of any physical force to cause harm to a nursing home resident, including punching, kicking, pushing, and improperly restraining an elderly individual.
  • Psychological abuse, which may include berating the resident, calling them names, and making threats against the elderly individual.
  • Sexual abuse in the form of any nonconsensual sexual act.

Signs of nursing home abuse may include any of the following:

  • Unexplained bruising
  • Cuts
  • Welts
  • Shrinking away when approached by nursing home staff
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Dental injuries
  • Broken eyeglasses

If you see any of these signs of possible nursing home abuse, you need to start asking questions of your loved one, other residents, and nursing home staff to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Nursing home neglect 

Unlike nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect doesn’t have to be intentional, although sometimes it is intentional. Here, nursing home staff simply fail to fulfill their obligations in caring for a patient. This lack of care can result in the patient sustaining serious harm. Nursing home neglect is more common than nursing home abuse, and it can be caused by any of the following:

  • Failing to prevent or appropriately address bedsores
  • Failing to seek treatment for an infection
  • Failing to provide appropriate amounts of food and water
  • Ignoring a resident’s requests as they relate to their care
  • Failing to assist with basic hygiene and daily management
  • Failing to administer medication properly
  • Isolating a nursing home resident

There can be many symptoms of nursing home neglect, including any of the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Bedsores
  • Injuries that worsen or become infected over time
  • Hygiene issues
  • Changes to your loved one’s personality

Do your best to keep your eyes and ears open under these circumstances so that you can identify red flags of neglect and act accordingly.

Are you ready to take legal action? 

If your loved one has been harmed while in a nursing home, you need to investigate the incident as fully as possible. That’s often easier said than done, especially when the nursing home tries to block your efforts at every turn.

With an attorney by your side, though, you can gain access to the information that you need to determine if legal action is warranted. If it is, you can pursue a legal claim that seeks to hold a negligent or abusive nursing home employee and their employer accountable. A successful claim may also bring compensation to help offset the economic and noneconomic damages that your loved one has suffered.

So, if you’re ready to thoroughly analyze your case, now may be the time to talk about your circumstances with an attorney who is well-versed in this area of the law.