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    5 Questions & Answers About Elder Abuse and Neglect

    Gavel next to law booksIf you suspect that your elderly relative is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, you may want to find out more before contacting a nursing home lawyer Alexandria VA can provide. Sadly, abuse and neglect is more common in nursing homes and assisted living facilities than many Americans realize.

    As an experienced nursing home lawyer Alexandria VA trusts might attest, there are many different ways that abuse and neglect can appear in a nursing home or assisted living setting. If you’ve recently discovered that your relative or loved one has not been receiving adequate care, there’s no reason to feel ashamed or guilty about not seeing the signs earlier. This type of personal injury may go unnoticed and unreported for years, despite the fact that it is so prevalent.

    At Cohen and Cohen, P.C., we understand the sensitive nature of these cases, and we know that some of our clients may want to have more information about nursing home abuse before contacting an Alexandria VA nursing home lawyer at our firm. While we encourage prospective clients to contact our legal team directly for more detailed information, here is a quick look at some of the more common questions you might have:

    1. Is nursing home abuse really that common?

    Yes, nursing home abuse and neglect are much more common than you might think. According to recent statistics from the National Council on Aging, (NCOA), it’s estimated that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some type of abuse or neglect. Of the adults who reside in nursing homes, it’s estimated that 1 in 6 experience abuse or neglect.

    Some data suggests that as many as 5 million elderly Americans could be the victims of abuse and neglect each year.

    It can be difficult for researchers to provide concrete statistics on the prevalence of elder abuse because it is very underreported. It’s estimated that only 1 in 14 cases is reported to the authorities — not because family members don’t care, but because they might not even know it is happening.

    2. What exactly is elder abuse?

    There are several different ways that elder abuse could manifest in a nursing home facility. While many reported cases of elder abuse are related to physical harm, psychological and financial abuse may also be taking place. As an experienced nursing home lawyer Alexandria VA has to offer might explain, non-physical abuse can be equally as damaging for a nursing home resident.

    3. What are the signs of elder abuse?

    There are many signs of abuse and neglect in nursing home settings. However, if you’ve ever talked with a nursing home lawyer Alexandria VA respects, you might know that some signs can be very difficult to spot.

    Common signs of physical abuse or neglect may include:

    • Unexplainable bruising, burns, rashes, or cuts
    • Unexplainable or unreported accidents where the individual is injured (possibly where only one other caretaker or resident was present)
    • Bleeding or open wounds
    • Sudden change in weight
    • Bruises or red marks around the neck, mouth, wrists, and arms
    • Hair loss
    • Social withdrawal
    • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing and/or linens
    • Clothing that is soiled and/or smells of bodily fluids
    • Overall lack of hygiene


    Even though many of these signs can be fairly obvious to family members or visitors, the difficult part is that these injuries can also occur naturally. Elderly adults are prone to have more accidents. It may be very difficult for family members to determine if physical injuries are the result of accidents or if they are signs of physical abuse.

    Emotional and psychological abuse may be even more tough to spot, as a skilled nursing home lawyer Alexandria VA relies on might tell you. These signs may include:

    • Strange behaviors, specifically infantile or childish behaviors
    • Listlessness, passiveness, or apathy
    • Social withdrawal
    • Sudden changes in sleep schedule, appetite, or daily routines
    • Sudden decrease in hygiene
    • Depression or anxiety


    4. Who could be held responsible for abuse and neglect in a nursing home?

    Determining liability will likely depend on several different factors that are unique to your own case. For this reason, it may be beneficial to hire a nursing home lawyer Alexandria VA residents recommend before filing any court documents that name a defendant. In general, the nursing home facility (or the company that owns and operates the facility) will likely qualify as a potentially liable party. This can even be the case when one particular employee (or several employees) are responsible for causing harm.

    It may be possible to seek damages from individual employees if they were primarily responsible for the harmful incidents, but plaintiffs often choose not to target individuals instead of the employer. Quite simply, a company will likely be able to pay more in a settlement than a single employee could reasonably pay. An injured plaintiff might not be able to collect the entire settlement that he/she deserves when only a single individual is named as the defendant.

    5. What additional steps can I take if I suspect my relative is being abused?

    The most important thing to do is to make sure that your relative is safe. If you believe that this individual may be at risk in the immediate future, you may want to contact local authorities or the administrative staff at the nursing home facility.

    Once you are sure that your relative is safe, your next step might be to contact a nursing home lawyer in Alexandria VA. Many lawyers offer free case evaluations for prospective clients, and this is a good time to discuss the details of your situation before taking any concrete legal action. If you have the opportunity to collect evidence that would document the abuse — at any point throughout this process — you may want to inform your lawyer and discuss how this evidence could be used.

    Speak With a Nursing Home Lawyer Alexandria VA Can Count On

    At Cohen and Cohen, P.C., we understand that cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect can be very difficult for families to work through. It can be painful to discover that an elderly relative is being abused by the very people who are supposed to be providing essential care. No family should have to go through such a painful experience, but if your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s important to know where you can turn for help.

    For more information about how a nursing home lawyer Alexandria VA trusts may be able to help your family collect compensation, contact Cohen and Cohen, P.C. today.

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    * Cohen & Cohen does not maintain a full-time office in Maryland or Virginia, but we do meet clients there upon request.