If your parents or loved ones are in a nursing home, you probably trust the staff to look after them. But shockingly, nursing home abuse is more common than you might think.
With over 1.4 million seniors in the US living in nursing homes, a huge subset of the population is vulnerable and dependent on caregivers for their health and wellbeing. If someone you know lives in nursing care, you need to check on them regularly to ensure they are healthy and happy.
If you suspect elder abuse, it helps to know what to look for. To learn more, keep reading to find eight signs of elder abuse in nursing homes—then, take action to stop the abuse and keep your family safe.
1. One of the First Signs of Nursing Home Abuse Is Isolation
If someone you love has started to become more withdrawn and isolated, this could be because they are a victim of nursing home abuse.
When someone is being victimized, it severely impacts their mental health. They may isolate themselves from other people, including staff at the nursing home, out of fear, embarrassment, or shame.
Although some people are naturally more introverted, if your loved one is normally social and outgoing, but their personality seems to have changed, this could be due to abuse.
2. Missing Valuables or Cash
Unfortunately, financial abuse is not uncommon in nursing homes. Staff may think that the victims are old and frail, and won’t notice if things go missing over time.
If your parent or loved one seems to occasionally be missing items, such as cash, jewelry, electronics, or valuables, don’t assume that they have been misplaced—theft is part of elder abuse and it does happen.
Should you suspect a nursing home is stealing from its patients or abusing them in other ways, this needs to be reported by calling a local nursing home abuse hotline, part of Adult Protective Services. In emergencies, always call 911 as well.
3. Physical Signs of Abuse
Physical abuse is another common type of elder abuse. Look for physical signs that a person has been abused, such as bruising, scrapes, or pains that can’t be explained.
Bruises on the wrists and arms are common as well, as the perpetrator may grab the victim by the arm. Even small bits of evidence, such as broken eyeglasses or ripped clothing, could be signs of abuse.
Often, the person may be embarrassed by what has happened to them and will come up with a cover story as to how they were injured.
4. Weight Loss or Malnutrition
Neglect is commonly seen in nursing home abuse cases, with the caregivers not taking responsibility for the patient. They may neglect to feed them meals or pay attention to dietary requirements, or they may withhold water or medicine from the person.
When someone you love starts to lose weight unexpectedly or is showing signs of malnutrition, such as hair loss, feeling tired, or frequent illness, this is a serious concern that needs to be addressed immediately.
If one person in the nursing home is being neglected, it’s highly likely that others are suffering as well. You may want to combine forces to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit, which can help your elderly loved one receive the care and compensation that they deserve.
5. Unsanitary Living Conditions
Another way that abuse can occur is through neglect of the patient’s home or room. Often, elderly patients with limited mobility issues depend on staff for basic needs such as fresh bedding, a clean living area and bathroom, and laundry services.
Is your loved one living in dirty conditions, wearing unclean clothes, or seeming unkempt? This is a sign that the staff of the nursing home isn’t caring for them properly.
Your loved one depends on the staff for basic life necessities, so if they are neglecting them, that is abusive behavior.
6. The Patients Appears Lethargic
Sometimes, nursing home staff may administer sedatives or unnecessary medications to make the residents more tired, requiring less work on their part.
Frequent fatigue, confusion, or falling asleep at random times could indicate that a person is being given sleeping pills or sedatives. Besides being cruel, unnecessary medicines can have serious health risks for the elderly.
7. Depression and Anxiety
When dealing with trauma, such as elder abuse, everyone will react differently. For some people, the stress of what they’re experiencing can lead them to feel depressed or suffer from anxiety.
If your loved one seems to have lost interest in activities they once enjoyed, seems sad or nervous, or seems preoccupied, this can indicate abuse. The person could be bottling up their emotions caused by the abuse, resulting in feelings of sadness.
Sometimes, therapy is the best way to help a patient recover from abuse.
Another common emotional reaction to abuse is anger. It’s completely normal to feel upset and angry in cases of abuse. Anger can be directed at the perpetrator, the family member who put them in care, or at the world for conspiring for this to occur.
If you’re unsure where the anger is coming from, try to remain calm and get more information from the person. They may give clues that they are unhappy living in the home or not being treated as they should.
Protect Your Loved One Today
Nursing home abuse isn’t always obvious, as you can see, so it’s not always easy to spot it. However, use the tips above to pay close attention to your relatives in nursing care to make sure they aren’t experiencing any abuse.
If abuse is occurring, remove them from the facility as soon as possible, seek medical care, report the facility to the police, and consider filing a legal case. Everyone deserves to grow old with care and respect, so make sure your relatives stay safe.
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