Fighting for Your Loved Ones in Memory Care Facilities

What to do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

When our elderly loved ones suffer from degenerative illnesses or issues that impact their memory, we need professionals to help us care for them. Properly trained staff at memory care facilities help our loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia live fuller, healthier lives than they could otherwise.

Sadly, sometimes staff members are not properly trained, are overworked, or simply do not care about the people they are supposed to help. When this happens, residents can be abused or neglected – and people who suffer from memory issues do not have the ability to protect themselves. Take every action you can to protect your loved ones and prevent additional abuse from occurring.

Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP Can Help

If you suspect any type of elder abuse, immediately contact Texas Adult Protective Services at (800) 252-5400. Then, call the Dallas nursing home abuse lawyers at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP at (214) 753-4592 to hold the perpetrators of such abuse accountable for their actions.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia are particularly vulnerable, and when allegations or suspicions of neglect are raised, our Dallas memory care facility abuse attorneys will begin thorough investigations. Our team brings a level of compassion and sensitivity to these challenging cases and fights diligently to ensure that your loved one secures the justice they deserve.

What Is Memory Care Facility Abuse?

Memory care abuse occurs at nursing homes and facilities designed to care for people who suffer from memory and cognitive impairments, like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Victims of degenerative conditions often cannot safely take care of themselves and need professional help.

When staff members at these facilities do not properly care for their patients, abuse can occur. This can take many forms, such as neglect, emotional abuse like threats and intimidation, or even physical abuse and violence. Since the patients at these facilities suffer from cognitive impairments, they often have difficulty relating the abuse to family and might not fully remember what happened.

Common Types of Memory Care Neglect and Abuse

More than 6 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. In a recent study, abuse and neglect of people with dementia by their caregivers was detected in nearly 50 percent of those surveyed.

Residents in facilities for dementia and Alzheimer’s are at risk for abusive behavior because of their impaired communication skills, memory, and judgment. Staff members in memory care units have resorted to physical violence, psychological abuse, and even elder fraud.

Physical Abuse and Neglect

Signs of physical abuse and neglect may include the following:

  • Pressure marks, bruises, or abrasions may be an indication of physical mistreatment
  • Marks on the wrists or other signs of being restrained
  • Bruising near the genital area or breasts may point to sexual abuse
  • Bedsores, neglected hygiene, and sudden weight loss can indicate neglect
  • Unexplained broken bones or dislocations can indicate both abuse and neglect if the patient is manhandled or left unsupervised and falls

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse in memory care facility patients can be difficult to spot, since the symptoms often mimic those of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The best advice is to remain cautious and trust your instincts. If your loved one exhibits unusual anxiety, suffers panic attacks, or is self-isolating, this may signal that something is amiss. Unexplained withdrawal from social activities, unusual agitation, and uncharacteristic depression are other warning signs.

Examples of emotional and psychological abuse include:

  • Verbal threats
  • Belittling behavior
  • Yelling and screaming
  • Withdrawing affection
  • Threatening to harm the resident
  • Isolating the resident
  • Hiding personal items
  • Intimidation to make the resident feel scared or upset
  • Purposefully embarrassing the resident in front of others

Financial Abuse in Memory Care Patients

Financial exploitation of memory care patients also gives rise to litigation. Staff may manipulate the patient into giving them bank information, or use other deceptive means to access funds or property without their permission or knowledge.

Potential warning signs of financial abuse:

  • New credit card balances
  • Unusual withdrawals from accounts
  • Addition of authorized users to credit cards and bank accounts
  • Suspicious changes in power of attorney or wills
  • Unpaid bills when sufficient funds exist
  • Unusual ATM withdrawals
  • Suspicious signatures on checks
  • Sudden non-sufficient fund alerts

People who suffer from cognitive decline are often unable to understand the harms that they are exposed to in long-term care settings. They are incapable of articulating their experiences, making it impossible to advocate for themselves. The Dallas memory care facility abuse lawyers at Crowe Arnold & Majors can hold negligent and abusive caretakers accountable for their actions, whether they resulted in falls, bedsores, emotional abuse, or financial exploitation.

How Can I Spot Memory Care Abuse?

When you visit a loved one at a memory care facility, watch out for warning signs. If you see patients wandering around, confused and unsupervised, the memory care home might be understaffed. This can lead to neglect and improper care, which can cause hygiene issues, malnourishment, or medication errors.

You should also watch for unexplainable bruises and sudden changes of personality. This can be difficult, since people suffering from dementia often have mood swings and personality changes. But if you see warning signs like lasting depression, fear around certain facility staff, or unexplained weight loss, abuse might be occurring.

What Do I Do If I Suspect Abuse?

If you suspect your loved one is being abused, it is important to trust your instincts and take action. The first thing you should do is contact Texas Adult Protective Services, part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Report what you’ve seen, and they will launch an investigation into the facility – or you might discover an investigation is already going on. If you are worried about physical abuse, you should contact your local law enforcement as well.

Elder Care Memory Facility Abuse Attorneys in Dallas

Trust your instincts and move your loved one from the memory care facility. There are resources online you can use to find reviews of different homes and facilities, and see if there are reports of suspected abuse. Then, call the Dallas personal injury lawyers of Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP at (214) 753-4592 to talk about your options for holding the facility financially accountable. We offer a free consultation and have 25 years of personal injury experience in the Dallas-Forth Worth area.

There are no upfront costs to retain skilled legal counsel in your time of need. Our dementia care abuse lawyers take cases on a contingency-fee basis, which means there are no attorney costs unless money is recovered on your behalf.

Additional Information

  1. Adult Day Centers – Alzheimer’s Association: https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/care-options/adult-day-centers
  2. UC Irvine, Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect http://www.centeronelderabuse.org/docs/pwdementia_factsheet.pdf
  3. Alzheimer’s Org, Facts and Figures https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures