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Spotting Nursing Home Abuse – Lawyers in Orlando Offer Tips

Posted by copeland on August 30, 2013

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When placing an elder you love in a nursing home, you expect that he or she will be treated with the utmost care and respect. Sadly, the fact is that elder abuse is on the rise everywhere. With Florida being a favorite spot for retirees to spend their golden years, our state is among those with the highest rates of nursing home abuse. Attorneys with Orlando’s Todd E. Copeland & Associates want to make sure you know the signs.

The statistics are heartbreaking. Upwards of 1 million reports of criminal behavior in America’s nursing homes are filed each year. Yet, experts suspect many incidents go unreported, which means the actual rate of these crimes is much higher. Elder abuse happens in multiple forms including physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, as well as neglect. To ensure the elder you love is safe, make sure you know the signs of abuse.

Before choosing a nursing home for your elder relative, check the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s online ranking tool, Nursing Home Compare. The program allows users to view rankings and general inspection results of nursing homes nationwide, and to download the full, detailed text of any nursing home’s most recent inspection report. Those reports can prove valuable tools in your search for the right facility.

Another effective resource for information on nursing homes is Nursing Home Inspect, originally designed for journalists reporting on nursing home abuses. It’s now accessible by the pubic and allows users to search nursing homes to learn about reports of issues and incidents, plus general safety hazards and trends.

Even if you’re confident that you’ve chosen a great nursing home for your elder loved one, always be aware of signs of abuse. Changeover in administers, employees or facility ownership can mean changes in policies and quality of care. Red flags of nursing home abuse can include:

  • Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and an elder resident;
  • Changes in the elderly resident’s personality or behavior;
  • Bruises, scratches or ulcerations on a resident’s skin;
  • Attempts by nursing home personnel to keep you from seeing your loved one during regular visiting hours.

Law mandates that certain professionals report any nursing home abuse they may witness. These professionals include physicians, nurses, social workers, staff members of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, counselors and law enforcement officials. Plus, nursing homes are legally required to post information on how to report elder abuse to a dedicated telephone hotline, and to make phones available to residents specifically for that purpose. Make sure that your elder loved one has that hotline number written and stored in a safe place in his or her room and knows where those phones are. Encourage them to be unafraid to speak up to you or to a trusted official about any mistreatment.

If you suspect abuse, document all pertinent information including dates, times and the nature of the suspected incidents or issues. Then, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. Orlando’s Todd E. Copeland & Associates believes our elders should be treated with full respect and can help secure fair compensation for abuses against elders.