When You Need a Lawyer who Will Fight for You

Signs of Elder Abuse

What Signs of Elder Abuse/Neglect Should You Look for?

Elderly Lady It is very important to be able to spot abuse in nursing homes in order to protect your loved one, but what should you be on the lookout for? Here are some common signs of elder abuse.

  1. Unexplained bruising, black eyes or other injuries
  2. Falls, especially if they are frequent
  3. The development of bedsores
  4. Rapid weight loss
  5. Lack of interest in activities the patient used to enjoy
  6. A change in demeanor such as aggression or unusual depression
  7. Emotional agitation or extreme withdrawal
  8. Unusual behavior changes such as sucking, biting, or rocking
  9. Fear of being touched
  10. Patients overmedicated or sedated
  11. Signs of overmedication like drowsiness, dry and cracked lips, slumping in wheelchairs, drooling, unresponsive behavior, vacant stares and slurred speech
  12. Caretakers unable to give a reasonable explanation of a patient’s condition or injury
  13. Signs of neglect, like poor personal hygiene, urine smell, unsanitary conditions
  14. Patients left in bed for long periods of time
  15. Residents unattended for long periods of time
  16. Missing personal items, especially items of value
  17. Scratches, welts, cuts or bite marks on the face or other parts of the body, especially if they are symmetrical on both sides of the body
  18. Marks on wrists or other areas of the body left by restraints
  19. Dehydration or malnutrition
  20. Fractures, sprains, dislocations or head injuries
  21. A dramatic decrease in physical or emotional health
  22. Lack or delay of medical treatment
  23. Increase in elder hospitalization or emergency treatment for injuries
  24. Fear or hesitation by the patient when he or she receives care or assistance from staff or around another resident
  25. Incomplete health reports
  26. Being unable to talk to seniors on the phone for extended periods of time
  27. Broken eye glasses or frames
  28. Hair pulls or sudden bald spots
  29. Instances of wandering or running away
  30. A residence's reluctance to speak in staff member’s presence
  31. Caregiver refusing to allow relatives to see the resident alone
  32. Frequent arguments or tension between the resident and a caregiver
  33. Patient wanting to be isolated from others
  34. Resident is frequently ill, and illness is not promptly reported to family and physician
  35. Reports of a drug overdose or failure to take medication regularly
  36. Unexplained or unexpected death of a resident
What Kinds of Elder Abuse Cases Does The Collins Law Firm Handle?

Elder patient At The Collins Law Firm, we represent nursing home clients who have been the victims of all types of financial, physical or mental abuse as well as those who have suffered as a result of neglect. Some of the more common types of abuse cases we encounter are:

Wrongful Death Sadly, in the United States, it is estimated that 5,000 nursing home residents die each year as a result of abuse or neglect. Serious falls, physical abuse, improper medication, lack of timely and proper medical treatment, malnutrition and dehydration, infection and even bedsores can result in an untimely death. Oftentimes a minor or initially innocuous problem becomes a deadly condition due to failure to detect, manage and treat the problem. No patient at a nursing home and no family should ever have to go through this.

Pressure Sores These sores, also called decubitus ulcers or bedsores, result from inadequate care and are receiving growing attention because of their prevalence. In Illinois, almost 20% of nursing home residents have pressure sores of stage 2 or higher on a scale of 4. Bedsores occur when staff fail to move and reposition patients with limited mobility on a regular basis. As a result, the blood supply to tissue is interrupted and the flesh dies. This causes pain and disability and can even lead to an open wound. When this happens, even more serious complications such as sepsis, gangrene, amputation, and even death can result. It is critical that you insist that the nursing home begin treatment of your loved one’s pressure sores immediately.

Unnecessary Falls at nursing homes occur regularly and repeatedly. In fact, the rate of falls in nursing homes is double that for the same age group living outside of long-term care facilities. The issue is a very serious one according to the following statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Each year a typical nursing home with 100 beds reports 100-200 falls.
  • About 1800 nursing home residents die from fall-related injuries every year.
  • Between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year.
  • Residents who do fall, often do so more than once, on average 2.6 times a year.
  • 10%-20% of nursing home falls cause serious injuries such as bone fractures.

Falls in nursing homes can result in death, injury, disability, functional decline, depression and reduced quality of life for your loved one. It is extremely important to be vigilant for conditions that might increase the chances of a serious fall.

Negligent Care Inadequate care can result in all sorts of injuries to a resident. Neglect can cause incontinence, malnutrition and weight loss, choking, clogged breathing tubes, dehydration, and a decline in the patient’s quality of life. Neglect can also be responsible for bedsores, infection, illness and a deterioration in a patient’s condition due to lack of treatment or proper medication and a failure to coordinate care. Inadequate supervision can lead to burns, falls, and the patient wandering off. In addition, negligent care can also result in patients being over or under medicated, or being improperly treated with antipsychotics or sedatives to make them "easier to handle". Many of these conditions dramatically impact a patient’s everyday quality of life, and if left untreated, can lead to serious injury, disability or even death.

Overmedication Overmedication Sadly, there are nursing homes who overmedicate their residents on a regular basis because it makes them easier to handle, or because of inadequate staffing. Sometimes the overmedication is an unintentional mistake made by an overstressed, overworked employee. Other times the patient is overmedicated intentionally because they are aggressive, emotional or uncooperative. Keeping a patient sedated for long periods of time for any reason is called "chemical restraint" and can be very dangerous. Here are some facts about overmedicating:

  • Fewer than 20% of nursing home residents require antipsychotic medication.
  • However, more than 300,000 nursing home residents are on antipsychotics.
  • More than 50% of residents taking antipsychotics have no reason for taking them.
  • 17% of patients receive greater than the recommended daily dosage of antipsychotics.
  • 15,000 nursing home residents die every year because of un-prescribed antipsychotics.

If you observe that a large percentage of patients at a nursing home appear to be on antipsychotic drugs, this may be cause for alarm. It may be a sign that the facility does not take precautions against overmedicating or has a regular practice of overmedicating. If your loved one seems to be acting differently, ask to see a log of his/her medications. Ask about any medications you are not familiar with; ask if they are sedatives or antipsychotics; and if so, why they are being administered, for how long and when the treatment will be over.

If the facility can give no credible, medical reason for your loved one to be medicated, speak to a doctor and insist that he or she be taken off any unnecessary sedatives or antipsychotics.

At The Collins Law Firm we help you through a difficult situation by navigating the legal issues involved, providing your loved ones with the care and safety they deserve, and fighting for justice for your family.

Client Reviews
Shawn Collins is a very talented lawyer, as are all the attorneys on his team. I've known and worked with Shawn for more that 30 years. Not only is he a top notch technical litigator but his communication skills are second to none. If anyone I know is ever in need of an attorney, Shawn is my very first recommendation. He gives very solid advice that goes beyond the law. He is someone you can trust to tell you the truth so you are not lead astray in the complex legal world. You really can't find a better advocate. E.M.
We were incredibly satisfied with our experience with The Collins Law Firm. We worked closely with Ed Manzke and found that he had a personal touch and truly got to know us in addition to being knowledgeable and effective in his field. The caring and individual attitude helped us tremendously throughout the entire process and we always felt like our case was in safe hands. We would highly recommend The Collins Law Firm for both its stellar work and dedicated employees. M.A.
My father recommended The Collins Law Firm to me after watching Shawn Collins and Ed Manzke at trial representing Lisle residents against Lockformer. For years, he told us courtroom tales about Shawn and Ed, citing their incredible skill as trial lawyers and how they put the huge Lockformer legal team to shame. So when my son was the victim of a wrongful death, they were my first and only choice. I can't say enough to truly express how grateful I am to The Collin's Law Firm for all that they did for me and my family. This amazing team advocated for me in my darkest moments, surpassing my expectations in every way. I will be forever grateful to Shawn and Ed. K.D.
I have worked with Rob, Shawn and The Collins Law Firm team in connection with both complex business transactions and litigation over the past several years. Shawn is far and away the best business litigation attorney I have worked with. Rob has been our lead attorney on M&A and corporate restructures, and he has delivered each time, and on time. I would highly recommend Rob to get the deal done! W.D.
Rob has been our out-side General Counsel for ten years. As a business with a global presence, it is important that we have the very best legal representation. Rob and the team have guided us through litigation battles, negotiating and drafting our important business contracts, and advising us in our business strategies. He has a great team of lawyers working with him. M.F.