Unfortunately, elder abuse is extremely common, especially within the confines of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The following article will discuss some signs of nursing home abuse and will provide information regarding how to report suspected cases of nursing home abuse in the state of Georgia.
Most Common Signs of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
Just like with any other form of abuse, there are often several warning signs present which indicate that an elderly person is being abused in a nursing home facility, even if that person does not or cannot verbally confirm this fact. Some of the most common warning signs of elder abuse include the following:
- Unexplainable injuries (i.e. fractures, broken bones, cuts, or bruises)
- Unsanitary living conditions (i.e. untreated bedsores, unchanged diapers, frequent infections, etc.)
- Sudden changes in behavior, such as agitation or withdrawal
- Malnutrition, as well as rapid weight gain or weight loss
- Reluctance or outright fear of speaking freely when nursing staff is present
- Patient is consistently sedated or on heavy medication
- Patient is frequently ill but these illnesses are not reported to the family/caregiver
- Unexpected and unexplained deaths in the nursing home
It is important to note that the presence of any of these warning signs is not by itself dispositive of whether an elderly person is being abused. As such, it is vital for family and other caregivers to consistently visit and talk to the elderly patient and the nursing staff to get a clearer picture of whether the patient is a victim of abuse. If you know what signs to look for, it will be easier for you to identify abuse and take the appropriate actions.
How to Report Suspected Nursing Home Abuse in Georgia
If you recognize signs of nursing home abuse and suspect that an elderly individual is in immediate danger, you should call 911. Otherwise, you can use the following contact information to make a report of abuse in a nursing home or other long-term care facility:
- File a complaint online with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging Services.
- Call the DHS Division of Aging Services Central Intake Office. The contact number for the Metropolitan Atlanta area is 404-657-5250; if you are outside of the Atlanta area, please call 1-866-552-4464. Your complaint will remain confidential.
- Contact the Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR) Division at 404-657-5728; 404-657-5276; or toll-free at 800-878-6442.
- To file a complaint about a licensed health care facility or service provider, call 1-800-878-6442 or fax your complaint to 404-657-5731. If you have to leave a message, make sure to include your contact information so that a representative can return your call.
If you or someone you know needs an advocate in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, you should contact the local ombudsman who is authorized to advocate for residents in these facilities. To find your local ombudsman, you can call 1-866-552-4464 or contact the Office of State Long-term Care Ombudsman at 404-463-8383 or 1-888-454-5826. You can also locate your local ombudsman here.