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How to Hold Nursing Homes Accountable for Abuse in Chicago

As people enter retirement, they start planning their Golden Years. For many, this looks like living at home near family or moving to a destination retirement community for a change of pace. They may choose to go on cruises or tour the world. However, for others, declining health requires seeking help through a long-term care facility. Ideally, living in a nursing home allows our elders to socialize with their peers and enjoy the amenities while receiving help with routine care and health issues. Unfortunately, many elders do not have an ideal experience.


Nursing home abuse is a serious issue that victimizes vulnerable elders in Chicago and the US. Approximately one in ten residents will experience abuse or neglect in long-term care. It's long past time to bring that number down.

Understanding Nursing Home Abuse

Before you can address an issue, you must first understand it. So let's take an introductory look at nursing home abuse.

Types of Abuse

Abuse comes in many nefarious forms, and a nursing home's elderly residents can be victims of all of them. The following is an overview of abuse types and potential signs:

       Physical: hitting or otherwise harming a resident

       Emotional: verbal threats and insults

       Financial: exploiting a resident for financial gain

       Neglect: withholding or forgetting needs such as food and water or help bathing

       Medical: using access to medication as leverage, not seeking care for sores or after falls

       Sexual: assault of all forms

Signs of Abuse

Ideally, your loved one is lucid and able to seek your help. But if they are cognitively impaired or afraid to seek help, here are some common signs you can watch for:

       Increased fear or anxiety

       Onset of depression

       Unexplained injuries

       Bed sores


       Dehydration or malnourishment

       Signed paperwork they don't understand

       Isolation and withdrawal

Effects of Abuse

Being abused can have several effects on the victim, but the most common include:

       Physical or mental trauma

       New medical issues

       Severe conditions like sepsis or other infections

       Increased expenditures for care or therapy

       Overall decline


Seeking Justice and Compensation in Chicago

Document Suspected Abuse

Once you suspect abuse, it's time to investigate and gather evidence. Photos of new injuries or sores, photos of unsafe conditions, video of staff berating residents, or witness statements from your loved one, other residents, or other visitors all count. If your loved one was tricked into signing something, get a copy 'for your records.' Anything you can find to prove your case without letting on to staff that you are suspicious.

Report Abuse to Authorities

If you witness abuse in action or a medical emergency, the first step is to call 911. Otherwise, you can contact the local police department through their non-emergent line. You should also file a complaint with the Illinois Department on Aging and Adult Protective Services.

Retain a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

While the above authorities can handle criminal abuse, you may need to pursue a civil case to receive compensation for your loved one's losses. You can find an attorney at https://www.rosenfeldinjurylawyers.com/nursing-home-abuse-and-neglect.html. Rosenfeld is one of the top personal injury lawyers in Chicago. They will help you seek justice for your loved one and enough compensation to pay for any costs resulting from the abuse and their future care.

Steps to Help Protect Your Loved One

Have A Planning Session

If your loved one is preparing to transition to a nursing home, sit them down with the rest of the adults in your family and set out plans and paperwork. Decide who will be their power of attorney, plan how to react in medical crises, and take control of their financial accounts. These steps go a long way in ensuring your loved one does not become a victim of abuse if their health declines. Make sure everything is notarized and made official. Then start helping your loved one prepare.

Research Potential Nursing Homes

Chicago is full of nursing homes and assisted living communities. Your loved one has several options before them. Help them research long-term care facilities in whatever area they wish to live. Look up reviews first, but also talk to your friends and family to see if anyone has experience with local nursing homes. Put together a list of narrowed-down potentials and go on tours with your relative.

Advocate for Their Care

Once your loved one has moved in, keep in contact. Monitor their situation by speaking with staff and visiting often. If you notice anything odd about their care or living space, bring it up with management before it devolves into a larger issue. If nothing changes, start documenting and reach out for help.

Advocate for Their Carers

Many of the issues in nursing homes directly result from how they are run. Nurses are often underpaid and overwhelmed, leading to exhaustion and stress. Poor working conditions can cause some nurses to snap and take out their frustrations on the residents. A lack of accountability can also allow toxic employees to get away with abuse under everyone else's nose. Get to know the staff where your relative lives. Be kind to them, even consider befriending them. Not only will you meet some incredible people, but you can also learn of ways you may need to help out. As a paying client, you're in a position of power to bring things up to management so the staff can remain anonymous.


For more information on advocating for better conditions in nursing homes, look up nonprofits like Nursing Home Abuse Justice for more resources and ideas.


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