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When people need help with everyday living tasks, due to age or disability, that their loved ones can’t provide, they don’t always have to live in standard nursing homes. Assisted living facilities are similar to nursing homes, but they’re typically reserved for residents who are more active, in relatively good health, and want more privacy and independence than standard nursing homes provide.
Because many nursing home residents have little to no independence and mobility, their families are more likely to worry about them being victims of abuse or neglect. However, the same worry isn’t as prevalent for families of residents in assisted living facilities.
How accurate is that belief? Keep reading to learn more about this common question and the risks that assisted living residents may face.
Assisted living residents may run the gamut from people who need assistance only with a few activities, such as bathing or managing their medications, to people who need assistance getting dressed and even getting out of bed. Because many assisted living residents experience age-related declines in health and mobility over time, many require assistance that’s commonly provided in nursing homes.
Residents who are the most dependent on the help of others or who are experiencing cognitive decline are the most likely to be abused or neglected in assisted living facilities. However, abuse and neglect can happen to anyone—including residents who still live active lives.
Because of the overall better health and mobility of assisted living residents, physical and sexual abuse are less common. However, residents may still be victims of verbal, emotional, and even financial abuse. For example, caregivers may insult residents or raise their voices at them, creating intimidating and unpleasant living situations.
Assisted living residents are also more likely to have good cognition, which means they’re better able to manage their finances independently. However, this can be used against them by staff members who engage in financial abuse, as they may coerce them into giving them valuable possessions, money, or even parts of their estates.
If your loved one is being verbally, emotionally, or financially abused, it’s important to let Ohio’s Bureau of Survey and Certification-Complaint Unit know about it. Use the information on this state website to contact them and let them know what’s happening.
More than 800,000 American adults reside in assisted living facilities, and there are around 600 facilities in Ohio alone. In total, assisted living facilities outnumber nursing homes nearly two to one in the U.S., but when it comes to recognizing and preventing abuse, most of the money, attention, and resources goes to nursing homes.
According to an article published by the AARP, the U.S. government mostly leaves assisted living oversight to the states, which means that rules and regulations are inconsistent from state to state. Most states have looser reporting requirements for elder abuse in assisted living facilities than the federal reporting requirements for nursing homes. That means that when residents complain of abuse, it doesn’t always get reported to the proper agencies.
It's important for residents to report physical abuse, and if they are afraid or incapable of doing so, their loved ones should report it ASAP. Unreported physical abuse can have devastating effects on assisted living residents.
Just like in nursing homes, residents can be abused by other residents in assisted living facilities. In fact, this type of abuse can result in more serious injuries and complications, as residents of assisted living facilities often have enough mobility and strength to seriously harm others.
In addition to being victims of physical harm, residents are susceptible to emotional and financial abuse from other residents, too. When residents are repeatedly insulted, harassed, or even threatened by other residents, it can result in anxiety, depression, and even impaired physical health.
When you visit your loved one in their assisted living facility, it may be hard to imagine that abuse or neglect could occur—especially when many residents still live active and healthy lives. But unfortunately, no care facility is exempt from abuse or neglect, and that includes assisted living facilities.
When you visit your loved one, always be on the lookout for signs of abuse or neglect, including bruises, unexplained weight loss, dehydration, worsening health, pain, and changes in mood or behavior. If you believe that your loved one may be a victim, it’s important to get in touch with an experienced Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer right away.
The legal team at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy is here to protect your loved one’s rights, whether they’re in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Contact us anytime for a free consultation of your case.
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