Myrtle Beach has become a popular destination for seniors who want to enjoy retirement in a beautiful place. In fact, seniors make up 25 percent of Myrtle Beach’s population, up from 15 percent in 2010. As the elderly population grows, so does the number of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. While we wish these facilities always provided our seniors with skilled, competent care, that is unfortunately not the reality.

When nursing homes and assisted living facilities fail to keep their residents safe, we believe they should be held accountable. Our law firm’s nursing home negligence lawyers understand the despair people feel when they discover their elderly relative or friend has been harmed in a supposed care facility.

Our goal is to guide you through the legal process every step of the way to help you and your loved one receive justice. To speak with a member of my team or to set up a free consultation, please call (843) 427-2800 or start a live chat below.

4 Types of Elder Abuse in South Carolina

Senior abuse is more common than expected. One 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that as much as 10 percent of the elderly population has experienced some form of abuse. Unfortunately, various types of abuse and neglect take place in Myrtle Beach nursing homes, each one as egregious as the next. It is important to understand the different forms, not only to protect your loved one but also to stop the abuser and help other South Carolina nursing home residents. Here are the most common types of elder abuse:

  1. Physical abuse. When caretakers are physically violent with the elderly, it is perhaps one of the most obvious forms of harm. Any act of striking or hitting an elderly person, pushing, shoving, or otherwise acting to cause physical harm is considered physical abuse. Victims are often reluctant to speak out about physical harm, and may offer excuses or conflicting reasons for injuries, when the reality is that an aggressive caregiver is the problem.
  1. Sexual abuse. The elderly are often physically vulnerable and unable to fend off unwanted molestation. The victims may have bruising on the chest or genital regions, bleeding, or new and otherwise unexplainable difficulty standing up or walking. Victims of sexual acts often become withdrawn and depressed as well.
  1. Emotional or verbal abuse. This type of damage is more insidious than physical violence, as it doesn’t leave marks on the skin, but may be just as harmful to the victim. Verbal aggression, insults, and threats directed at the victim are just a few examples. You may notice that a victim of emotional or verbal abuse is frightened of or intimidated by the aggressor. Emotional abuse can also involve intentionally isolating the victim from friends and family, leaving him or her to suffer alone and in silence.
  1. Financial abuse. Fraudulently taking advantage of an elderly person’s finances is another common form of exploitation. Caregivers may use the victim’s checkbook, credit cards, or other accounts to siphon off money either without consent or by deception. He or she may pressure the victim or outright lie to get the victim to sign documents, including powers of attorney. Identity theft is also rising at alarming rates. Less sophisticated theft may involve simply stealing cash or other physical assets over time.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Physical Signs of Elder Abuse

The CDC estimates hundreds of thousands of adults over 60 experience abuse or neglect every year in the United States. Make sure you are aware of the potential red flags and warning signs, including:

  • Bed sores
  • Hair loss
  • Malnutrition or dehydration
  • Cuts, scrapes, bruises or burns
  • Head injuries or broken bones
  • Unexplained infections or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Torn, bloody or stained bedding or clothes
  • Unsanitary conditions, poor hygiene or a smell of urine or feces
  • Sudden changes in financial accounts or missing personal items

If you notice any of these signs, report it immediately.

Emotional Signs of Elder Abuse

An abused elderly patient may exhibit the following behaviors after suffering emotional abuse:

  • Fear of being touched
  • Agitation
  • Withdrawal
  • Infantile behavior
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Listlessness, wandering or being non-communicative
  • Anxiety around certain or all staff members

While these behaviors are not always evidence of victimization, when present with other emotional or physical symptoms, they could be cause for concern. Speak to your loved one candidly about their care and report any suspected abuse to the appropriate personnel and state agencies.

What Is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?

Seniors frequently experience clinical neglect, which is different from abuse but equally devastating. Nursing home neglect happens when an elderly person simply isn’t cared for appropriately. It may include a failure to provide medication or medical care, food, water, personal hygiene assistance, or even personal safety. Neglect may be purposeful, or it may happen unintentionally, such as when a nursing home is understaffed. Either way, there’s simply no excuse for elder neglect. Nursing homes and caregivers have a duty to their patients, and when that duty is breached, they must be held accountable.

How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home?

If you or a loved one have been subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect, you have 3 years from when the injury was discovered to file a lawsuit against a non-government defendant. If the facility is run by the state or county, you may only have 2 years. If you are unsure whether or not you have a case, it never hurts to speak with a nursing home abuse attorney before it is too late. Our Myrtle Beach lawyers offer free consultations and are ready to offer honest legal guidance and ensure your legal rights are protected.  

How to Report Abuse or Neglect at a Nursing Home in Myrtle Beach

Abuse and neglect of a vulnerable adult can pose a serious risk of harm to the victim and future victims. If you suspect this is occurring, first and foremost, remove the person from the facility and report the issue. If the danger is immediate, 911 is likely the best option. Another option is to call the Adult Protective Services division of the South Carolina Department of Social Services. We also recommend setting up a free consultation with a South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer to ensure the injured person’s legal rights are protected.

Whatever the type or degree of abuse you or a family member have been subjected to, you are not alone. Our law firm believes that our most vulnerable populations deserve to be treated with dignity and respect through the end of their lives. That means holding abusive caretakers and nursing homes responsible for their wrongdoing. To speak with a Myrtle Beach nursing home abuse attorney, call our office at (843) 427-2800 or start a live chat using the chat box below.

Kenneth Berger
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Columbia and Myrtle Beach car accident and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.