When you place a loved one in a nursing home facility, you’re trusting that they will provide adequate care—but when you suspect a case of abuse, the sense of betrayal can be overwhelming. Learn the typical indicators of nursing home abuse, how to document the discovery and what to do if this happens to you or a loved one.
Nursing Home Abuse
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there are almost two million residents of elder care facilities and nursing homes in the United States alone. This number is growing by the year, and there are unfortunately thousands of elder people who are the victims of nursing home abuse. This abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, emotional/mental abuse, financial exploitation and sexual abuse.
Common Abuse Signs
There are certain signs of abuse that are common regardless of the form of mistreatment suffered. These signs include:
- Sudden, unexplained mood swings or personality shifts
- Refusal to take medication or unexplained overdoses
- The caregiver tries to interfere with you being alone with the elder
- Poor hygiene or living conditions
Physical abuse can be the easiest form of abuse to spot, as it will often bear visible symptoms.
The signs of physical abuse include:
- Unexplained injuries including bruises, cuts, scratches, sprains and even broken bones
- Signs of unexplained pain or fear of being touched
- Signs of restraints on the legs or arms
Emotional abuse occurs when a person is caused anguish, fear, anxiety or undue stress by the deliberate actions of another. This can occur as a result of anything from off-color jokes to verbal insults, bullying or intimidation. The signs of emotional abuse can be difficult to spot and include those common abuse signs listed above as well as the potential to witness a caregiver acting inappropriately towards the elder.
Some caregivers take their position as an opportunity to engage in fraud and monetary exploitation. This can occur through scamming, account theft or healthcare fraud. The signs of this sort of abuse include:
- Changes to the elder’s will, life insurance or power of attorney
- Disappearance of property or funds
- Unpaid expenses and bills
- Unexplained charges to bank accounts or credit cards.
Perhaps the most devastating and disturbing kind of abuse, this unfortunately does happen. Signs include:
- Injuries or bleeding to the private areas of the elder
- Unexplained pain
- Unexplained diseases, especially STDs
- Stained and torn clothing and bedding
What to Do
If you suspect your elder has been the victim of abuse, you should immediately document all of the signs you notice. If the situation is life-threatening, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, report the issue to local law enforcement and secure the services of a qualified elder law attorney. For more information on nursing home abuse issues, get in touch with us for a free, no obligation consultation today.