Elder abuse

Dementia Patient Abuse in Long-Term Care Facilities

February 7, 2022 by James McHugh, Jr.
Dementia Patient Abuse

Nursing home abuse is sadly all too common. It can be particularly harmful to patients suffering from cognitive deficits and declines, such as those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, among other related conditions. If your loved one is living in a nursing home or other long term care facility, and you notice a change in their behavior or see signs of physical trauma, be diligent, because dementia patient abuse in long term care facilities should be brought to light to help not only your loved one but also others in the care of the same treatment center.

Abuse In Alzheimer’s Care Facilities

Alzheimer’s patients have very unique needs. While some people with Alzheimer’s are still able to live on their own or with the help of a loved one, many will eventually require nearly around-the-clock care. Unlike other patients in nursing homes, the type of care they need is very different and specialized to meet the needs of the illness. While some Alzheimer’s care facilities provide adequate care, others do not, and unfortunately, Alzheimer’s patients can struggle to get help for abuse.

Alzheimer’s patients can suffer from a variety of forms of abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers, including physical, emotional, financial, sexual, and more. Because wandering and forgetfulness are common symptoms, these patients need constant supervision to prevent accidents and injuries. Alzheimer’s patients can wander away from staff or even out of a care facility and find themselves lost in an unknown place. When this happens, patients are in serious danger. There have been instances of patients wandering away from facilities and being hit by a car, stranded in freezing temperatures, or suffering an injury and not being able to get help. Facilities caring for Alzheimer’s patients must implement wander management systems that alert staff when patients leave permitted areas.

Alzheimer’s patients also are at risk for medication errors. While medication errors are a risk at all nursing homes and long-term care facilities, these errors are particularly dangerous for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Medication errors can cause a number of complications, such as behavioral changes and a decline in cognitive ability.

The Difficulty in Identifying Abuse In Alzheimer’s Facilities

Because Alzheimer’s can severely affect a patient’s memory, victims might have trouble remembering the abuse. Sometimes patients don’t remember the entire experience but have certain negative feelings towards their abuser that they cannot explain. Even if a patient remembers the abuse and reports it, law enforcement and/or state agencies may not believe them or find them credible enough to bring charges.

Dementia Patients Are at a Greater Risk of Abuse

In addition to Alzheimer’s, patients suffering from the various stages and iterations of dementia are often unable to be cared for by their families due to the constant and specialized care required. This leaves the loved ones of those with dementia turning to nursing homes and other long-term care options. Unfortunately, dementia patients are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of their condition. Loved ones of dementia patients need to understand the warning signs of abuse to help keep at-risk patients safe.

Why Are Dementia Patients at Risk?

Dementia patients are at a higher risk of abuse because their condition often prevents them from remembering the abuse at all or prevents them from remembering exactly what happened. For patients who do recall instances of abuse, the signs can be similar to the symptoms of dementia. Many abuse victims respond to abuse by withdrawing from loved ones or experiencing explosive emotions. These are both symptoms of dementia itself, making it difficult for loved ones to determine the cause of their behavior. Patients with dementia are not always in the right state of mind and they also do not always have the mental capacity to take care of themselves. This makes them particularly vulnerable to institutional abuse of many types, including financial abuse.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

When selecting a nursing home, long-term care facility, or in-home caregiver for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is absolutely crucial that the facility or caregiver has training and experience working with dementia patients. Caring for a dementia patient is not the same as caring for other elderly patients. Without the appropriate training and experience, your loved one will not get the care they need.

If you notice any suspicious bruises or changes in your loved one’s finances, you need to immediately report it to the authorities and contact an experienced elder law attorney. These could be signs of abuse. If your loved one reports any abuse to you, whether it’s verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, or financial, you need to immediately contact local police. All claims of abuse should be taken seriously and immediately acted upon.

Call The Elder Law Attorneys at Lopez McHugh LLP

Elder abuse isn’t just wrong – it’s illegal. If you notice your elderly loved one exhibiting signs of abuse, do not wait to contact Lopez McHugh LLP. Our experienced elder law attorneys can help put a stop to the abuse and get your loved ones the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, and our elders are no exception. We fight aggressively for our clients, so call us today at (888) 255-1578 to see how we can help.

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