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Do you suspect your loved one was mistreated by their nursing home?

When we send our loved ones to a nursing home, we want to know that they are being loved, cared for and treated with respect. We want to be able to trust our nursing homes and not constantly worry about our loved one's well-being and whether they're being treated right. Unfortunately, abuse and negligence does happen in nursing homes.

This abuse can take three forms: physical, emotional, and financial abuse. It's important to know what rights you and your loved one have, and what to do if your loved one is being mistreated.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse can be easier to spot than other forms of mistreatment because the damage is often visible. If your loved one has any sort of open wounds, bruises, or bed sores, they may have faced physical abuse from the nursing home.

Nursing homes cannot:

• Physically discipline or harm residents in any way

• Use restraints as discipline or to make their jobs easier

• Use feeding tubes

• Use mood drugs (unless prescribed)

• Sexually abuse residents

• Refuse to provide necessary care for residents' health

They also cannot evict a resident for "being difficult." There are only a few reasons residents can be evicted.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is perhaps the hardest form of mistreatment to notice, since the damage is psychological. Watch for behavior that is out of the ordinary for your loved one. If your loved one seems withdrawn or like their daily social and emotional needs are not being met, it is possible they have been emotionally abused.

Nursing homes cannot:

• Mock or ignore residents

• Isolate or neglect residents

• Prevent family visits; family may visit at any time

• Refuse to provide a private space for family visits if private space is desired

• Refuse to accommodate wants/needs of residents, even if it requires schedule adjustments

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse may go unnoticed simply because you are unaware of your financial rights in regards to nursing homes, but it affects you, not just your loved one. Knowing what nursing homes can and can't do can help you spot this form of mistreatment.

Nursing homes cannot:

• Force you to be liable for expenses

• Bill Medicare without informing you in writing

• Treat Medicaid patients differently than Medicare patients

• Refuse to let you help with developing a care plan

• Force you to pay any extra charges that weren't written in the agreement

Make sure to read the fine print on your agreement. Legally, you don't have to be responsible for expenses, so if you are asked to sign as a "responsible party," make sure that doesn't mean you are liable for expenses.

If nursing homes are engaging in any of these behaviors, you should contact an attorney immediately and ask about your options.

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