Each year, many elderly patients suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff members. It is vital that friends and family members know how to recognize the warning signs of nursing home abuse.
Abuse can take several forms, from physical violence to emotional abuse. Here are five warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse.
Bruises and other marks on the body can be a sign of physical abuse. This may be a result of slapping, hitting, shaking, or kicking. It can also be the result of neglect like failing to change bedsheets regularly, leading to bedsores.
Emotional abuse can leave no outward signs but may make a loved one seem depressed or anxious for no reason, withdraw or become agitated, battle insomnia, lose weight, or show a general lack of interest in their favorite activities. This is often due to being ignored or verbally insulted.
Neglect can lead to serious consequences, such as falling frequently which could lead to fractured bones or death. It can also cause medical problems such as malnutrition or dehydration which can be life-threatening.
Unexplained Changes in Behavior
Emotional abuse is difficult to spot because it often does not leave physical evidence. If your elderly loved one suddenly seems withdrawn, angry or anxious, especially when they are around specific care providers, it may be a sign of emotional abuse.
Other signs of emotional abuse include threats, yelling, bullying, inciting shame, or forcing a resident to eat against their will. Additionally, broken personal items can be an indicator of physical abuse.
Sexual abuse is another prevalent form of nursing home abuse, and it includes any kind of non-consensual sexual contact. This can also include showing a patient sexually explicit images or videos. Financial exploitation can occur in the form of stealing a resident’s money or property, overcharging them on medication or services and forging checks.
While most nursing home abuse concerns center around physical injuries, it is also important to look for unusual odors. If your loved one’s room has a foul smell, it is likely that they are not receiving the proper care.
Emotional abuse in a nursing home can take many forms, including verbal threats, embarrassment, and yelling on the part of caregivers. It can be easy to mistake emotional abuse for dementia-like behavior, such as mumbling, rocking and sucking the thumb, but it is still a serious concern that should be investigated.
If you are worried that your elderly loved one is being abused in their nursing home, it is always best to make frequent and longer visits than scheduled. Any attempts by the nursing home to limit your access can be a red flag.
Financial abuse is one of the most common forms of nursing home abuse. It can be committed by family members, friends or caretakers who have power of attorney, and it often involves stealing money or property from an elderly person.
Look for unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts and large transfers to different accounts. Also watch for sudden changes in spending habits or items that have disappeared from the victim’s possessions, such as eyeglasses and rugs.
Make regular visits or phone-calls to check on your loved one’s condition and well being. Try to schedule longer or unscheduled visits, and keep an eye out for attempts by the nursing home staff to limit these visits. It could be a sign that they are hiding signs of abuse.
Abuse can also take the form of neglect. This is when a caregiver fails to provide basic care, such as providing food, water, clean clothing, shelter, and medication. It can also involve failing to address serious health issues, such as untreated bedsores or severe malnutrition.
Physical abuse can include any type of violence against a senior, including hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, and choking. It can also include the use of restraints, which could leave marks on an elderly person’s wrists.
Emotional abuse involves threats, insults, and belittling behavior from a caregiver or other nursing home resident. It may also include a refusal to allow loved ones alone time or requests for lots of advance notice before visiting. This type of behavior can cause depression and a change in eating habits, which can lead to weight loss.