Kisling, Nestico & Redick in Cleveland: Elder Abuse at the Nursing Home – When To Hire an Attorney

As our loved ones get older, we’re all concerned with making sure they have the best quality of life and care. Unfortunately, that often means making tough decisions. Families that are simply not equipped to deal with an elderly relative’s increasing needs for help with routine tasks such as cooking, shopping, cleaning, bathing, and/or more serious medical intervention are faced with tough decisions. “With the baby boomer generation retiring, many families are choosing to send their loved ones to nursing homes,” states Cleveland law firm Kisling, Nestico & Redick (KNR). “But what we’ve been seeing, especially during the pandemic, is not all nursing homes are ideal — and some, in fact, can do a great deal of harm.”

 

No one wants to think they’ve put a beloved family member at risk, but recognizing elder abuse isn’t always easy. Would you be able to tell the difference between behavioral changes due to the advances of a mental condition or the side effects of medication versus emotional or physical abuse? And even if you suspect nursing home misconduct, would you know what signs to look for, how to stop it, and when you need to hire an attorney specializing in elder law cases to make restitution? If you have an elderly relative in a Cleveland nursing home — or just about anywhere — these are some important facts you need to be aware of.

 

Elder Abuse in Cleveland: What Qualifies?

Every state in the union has elder abuse laws on its books. Recent U.S. estimates suggest one in 10 seniors age 60 or older experiences at least one form of elder abuse every year, with some experiencing multiple forms of exploitation. While earlier government statistics indicated that at least 500,000 elders were being abused each year, seniors tend to downplay these incidents due to fear of reprisal or embarrassment; it’s very likely those numbers were grossly under-reported.

 

Kisling, Nestico & Redick in Cleveland state that elder abuse is an umbrella term that refers to causing harm to any vulnerable adult, whether that person is a senior citizen or a disabled person. By its nature, elder abuse causes serious risk and/or harm to its victims. Elder abuse can take many forms, from intentionally inflicting physical or emotional pain; to neglect (whether through purposely withholding care, as the result of chronic oversight, and in some states, self-neglect, which is defined as lacking the capacity to take care of one’s basic physical or mental needs), theft of property, and financial exploitation.

 

If your loved one is being looked after by a caretaker or resides in a nursing home, here’s a list of common forms of elder abuse the attorneys at Kisling, Nestico & Redick in Cleveland warn you to look out for:

 

  • Physical abuse results from caregivers intentionally inflicting pain or injury due to restraining, hitting, or slapping an individual in their care.
  • Nonconsensual or forced sexual contact (which is an under-reported but all too pervasive form of elder abuse).
  • ·Neglect, often the most common form of elder abuse, occurs when caregivers or nursing home staff fail to provide or intentionally withhold food, shelter, healthcare, medicine, or other prescribed care to their patients.
  • Illegally misappropriating, misusing, stealing, or concealing the financial assets or property of a senior citizen or disabled person entrusted to care are all forms of financial abuse. Duping or coercing someone in a vulnerable position to “give away” or “donate” their assets also qualifies as elder exploitation.
  • Emotional abuse can be devastating to seniors. Common forms of psychological mistreatment of seniors include isolating them for long periods of time, verbal harassment, humiliation, intimidation, and threats.
  • Abandonment is an extreme form of neglect in which someone who has assumed the care of a vulnerable individual subsequently desserts that senior or disabled person.

How Can I Tell if My Loved One is Being Mistreated in a Nursing Home?

Some signs of nursing home negligence or mistreatment — like unsanitary conditions, chronic understaffing, or clear evidence of medical or physical restraints on patients’ bodies — are easy to spot; others are more subtle. If your loved one is in a long-term care facility, in addition to looking for physical manifestations of abuse such as unexplained bruising or infection (particularly around the genitals), burns, or broken bones; evidence of improper hygiene including bedsores or unchecked body odor, unusual weight loss or worsening of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart ailments, or diabetes for which they’ve been receiving routine medical treatment, you must also be on guard for changes in behavior and personality.

 

Has the person in care suddenly become antisocial, angry, depressed, or withdrawn? Do they no longer participate in their usual or formerly favorite activities? Does their behavior change noticeably when they come in contact with staff members or one particular caregiver? Do they appear to be in pain due to lack of medication or “out of it” from over-medication? All of these symptoms can result from elder abuse, according to Kisling Nestico & Redick in Cleveland.

 

In addition to the aforementioned physical and emotional signs of abuse, you also need to keep an eye out for the red flags of potential financial exploitation. Is your loved one suddenly breaking with routine, making large bank withdrawals, cashing in investments, or changing their will? Have cherished items inexplicably gone missing, or were they given away on a sudden whim? According to Kisling Nestico & Redick in Cleveland, these are signs someone may be exploiting the person in their care for financial gain. 

Ohio’s Elder Abuse Reporting Law And Your Legal Options

If you suspect someone you love is being subjected to elder abuse — or if you’re being abused yourself — it’s critical to reach out for intervention. If you, a friend, or a family member is in imminent danger, call local law enforcement.

In the event of suspected elder abuse, report your concerns to Adult Protective Services. Thanks to the current Ohio Reporting Law, they don’t need proof to open a case. However, any documentation (such as a corroborating medical exam report from a doctor or healthcare provider who’s subsequently examined the patient) you can supply will make the case stronger. In Ohio, reporting abuse is confidential, so as long as your claim is made “in good faith,” you won’t be subject to potential liability.

 

If the damage has already been done, your senior deserves justice for their pain and suffering, as well as recompense for financial exploitation and theft. In cases of elder abuse, consulting an experienced Ohio nursing home abuse attorney who is well versed in elder abuse case law as well as appropriate legal compensation for claims is the best way to ensure justice will be served.

 

“We know how difficult it can be to watch someone you love get mistreated,” notes Kisling Nestico & Redick in Cleveland, “and we are here to fight for their rights.”

 

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.