I think my parent is being abused by their nursing home roommate – what can I do?
Elder abuse in senior care facilities is a nationwide problem. Almost a quarter of nursing home residents experienced an incident of physical abuse at the hands of a staff member, a 2012 study found (here). But employees are not the only potential source of abuse; roommates and other residents are responsible for many instances of abuse, too. In fact, according to a 2014 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, one in five US nursing home residents has experienced such abuse.
If you have a parent or another loved one in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other long-care facility and suspect they are being abused by their roommate, it’s important to take action on your loved one’s behalf. Here’s what to do.
What to Look for: Types and Signs of Elder Abuse
The 2014 study referenced above found three prevalent types of elder abuse at the hands of roommates and residents:
- Verbal abuse accounted for 45% of incidents, such as yelling or using inappropriate language
- Physical abuse accounted for 26% of incidents, mostly involving pushing and hitting
- Invasion of privacy accounted for 20% of incidents, including taking personal property and entering rooms without permission
Other types of abuse found included sexual abuse and threatening behavior.
How can you tell if your parent or loved one is experiencing elder abuse? There are a few ways: You may witness such abuse yourself. Your parent may tell you about their experiences, or a staff member may tell you what they’ve witnessed. Or you may see signs such as bruises and cuts, changes in mood such as depression or anxiety, and changes in behavior such as withdrawal and isolation.
What to do if you suspect elder abuse
Write down what you’ve seen and heard, ask staff members what they’ve noticed, and talk to your loved one about their experiences. If you see signs of physical abuse, take photos.
Work with the facility.
Talk to staff about your concerns and ask what they can do about it. Depending on their facility’s policies, they may be able to change room assignments, separate your parent from the abuser, or evict the abuser altogether.
Report abuse to the authorities.
If you believe the abuse is substantial enough to warrant reporting, or the abuse continues after you’ve requested help from the facility, you can make an official report. If injuries are life-threatening, as always call 911. Otherwise, report elder abuse or neglect to the SC Department of Social Services.
Talk to an attorney about filing suit.
Depending on your situation, you may consider bringing a civil suit against the roommate who perpetrated the abuse or the nursing home or care facility where it happened. Since there are many challenges to bringing a successful lawsuit, it’s important to work with an attorney who has experience in elder abuse and nursing home abuse cases.
Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at The Carolina Law Group
If you believe your parent was abused by another resident in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other long-term care facility, call us today. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to discuss your case, so you have nothing to lose by calling one of the numbers below. We’re ready to fight for you and your loved ones.
The Carolina Law Group has three offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg. Call today.