For many families, the decision to move a parent to a nursing home was difficult. People want to think they made the best choices for everyone involved. However, there are sometimes risks even in the relatively safe environments of professional elder-care facilities.
Two of these risks are abuse and neglect. This article will examine their definitions under Ohio law — and some evidence that they are occurring.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse goes beyond simply causing injury. It happens when someone:
- Knowingly physically hurts a person
- Recklessly causes serious physical harm
Many acts could qualify as abuse. For example, abuse can happen via chemical restraint, physical restraint, physical isolation, physical contact or medication.
The law in Ohio prohibits staff from using restraints and isolation as punishment. They also cannot use these measures in excess or as a substitute for treatment.
What is elder neglect?
Elder neglect is more of a passive source of injuries. It happens when people fail to provide what is necessary for an elder’s health or safety. Examples might include failing to provide adequate bathing, supervisory or meal services.
Spotting abuse and neglect
Abuse and neglect do not always immediately take the form of physical injuries. For example, a pattern of neglect or excessive isolation might lead to depression, which, in turn, leads to changes in behavior and more violent abuse as punishment.
Further, some evidence of abuse is difficult for visitors to see. Residents might cover bruises with accessories, or bedsores might hide beneath clothing. In cases like these, maintaining open and clear communication with resident relatives sometimes helps families stop abuse before it gets out of control.