Whereas nursing homes are exclusively designed to look after elderly people requiring considerable care, assisted living facilities (ALFs) cater for people who need help with certain daily tasks, but are generally more able to bath and dress themselves, eat unaided and move about more easily. They also care for younger people who need assistance because of conditions such as strokes, or mental health issues such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Although those living in ALFs are more able bodied and capable, they are still, sadly, often the victims of abuse at the hands of the staff at their assisted living facility.
What is Assisted Living Abuse?
This abuse can be physical, sexual or psychological, and can also take the form of financial exploitation or neglect.
* Physical abuse includes slapping, pushing, kicking or hitting, as well as excessive or improper use of restraints. Withholding food and drink, or forcing a resident to consume unwanted food and drink is also a form of physical abuse.
* Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual act, or forcing a resident to look at pornographic material.
* Psychological abuse mainly takes the form of verbal bullying, harassment and degradation.
* Neglect is common in facilities that are underfunded, and therefore understaffed. Neglected residents may experience hunger and dehydration, and may live un-hygienically.
* Financial exploitation occurs when a resident’s money or property are used without his or her permission, or in an inappropriate way.
How Will I Know If My Loved One is Being Abused?
Assisted living abuse is not always easy to spot. The problem is compounded by the reluctance of many victims to come forward – either out of fear, embarrassment, frailty or lack of access to a phone. However, there are certain signs to look out for, including:
* Rapid deterioration in health or mental acuity
* Unexplained weight loss, bruises or other injuries
* Unkempt appearance and poor hygiene
* Marked change in behavior – depression, withdrawal etc.
* Appearing afraid or intimidated
What Can I Do?
Sometimes filing a complaint with the facility is enough to rectify the situation. More often, however, the only solution is to remove the resident from the facility and then take legal action to receive compensation. An assisted living abuse lawyer should be contacted as soon as possible.
Assisted living laws differ from state to state.