10 Signs of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is one many families struggle with. Of course, you want to provide your loved one with all the care and support they need, but sometimes this just is not practical. Sometimes, family members need professional care that other relatives are just not qualified to provide.
Unfortunately, elders in nursing homes are often victimized by the very people entrusted to care for them. Vigilance is essential for people that have a loved one in a nursing home. It is important to visit your loved one in the home regularly, and to keep watch for some of the most common signs of abuse and neglect. Below are the top ten signs of elder abuse in nursing homes.
Changes in Their Behavior
It is not uncommon for a person’s behavior to change as they age, particularly when a nursing home resident suffers from dementia or other factors that affect their cognitive health and mood. Still, if you begin to see noticeable differences in your loved one’s behavior, particularly if it happens suddenly, it may be a sign of nursing home neglect or abuse. For example, if your loved one is suddenly distracted, agitated, worried, or even becomes aggressive, it could mean they are not being treated properly.
Malnourishment or Dehydration
As a person ages, they are not always able to feed themselves, or make their own meals. Staff members in nursing homes are expected to ensure residents are getting the proper nutrition they need. Residents should also always have access to fresh drinking water. Sadly, staff members sometimes withhold food and drink in an effort to punish ‘uncooperative’ residents, which is abusive. Signs of malnourishment and dehydration include dry and chapped lips, sudden weight loss, constipation or diarrhea, lower muscle mass, and an inability to keep warm.
Bed sores develop when nursing home residents are left in one position too long, such as when they are sitting in a wheelchair or confined to a bed for long periods of time. Bed sores are a very serious matter, and they are also one of the most common signs of nursing home abuse. Caregivers have a responsibility to try and prevent bed sores from developing. Once they have, staff members should then take extra care to prevent them from getting worse. Bed sores, particularly those in later stages, are incredibly painful and can even result in wrongful death.
Injuries that are visible are one of the most obvious signs of elder abuse in nursing homes. Any time your loved one has broken bones, bruises, cuts, dislocated joints, or marks on their wrists or ankles, which could indicate the use of restraints, it is essential that you speak to the staff members about what caused the injury. If they cannot provide a reasonable explanation, contact a New York nursing home abuse lawyer immediately, as your loved one may have to be removed from the home.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Although it is something no one wants to think about, sexual abuse is all too common in nursing homes. If your loved one has developed a sexually transmitted disease, particularly one they had never been diagnosed with before, it may be a sign of sexual abuse. Additionally, if your loved one has restraint marks on their ankles or wrists, this could also indicate sexual abuse has occurred.
Poor Conditions Within the Nursing Home
Any time you visit your loved one in the nursing home, you should also assess the conditions of the facility. Observe everything, from the physical condition of the nursing home, and whether it is in disrepair. Also check to make sure the conditions in the facility are comfortable. For example, make sure the environment is not too hot or too cold for the weather conditions. While you are there, also take note of your loved one’s appearance and personal hygiene. If their bedding is soiled or your loved one has not been bathed for some time, it is a sign of nursing home abuse.
Irregularities in Your Loved One’s Finances
Senior citizens are at great risk of being the victim of financial abuse while they are in a nursing home. Staff members may outright steal the possession of an elder, or they may trick them into signing important financial documents, such as a power of attorney or a will. Caregivers may also financially abuse elders by stealing their personal information and using it to apply for credit and other debt. If you notice your loved one starts to receive letters from debt collectors or credit card agencies that are unfamiliar to you, it may be a sign of financial abuse.
Caregivers within nursing homes are expected to monitor and supervise residents at all times. When they fail to meet this duty, seniors may wander from the nursing home, which could result in serious injury, or even death.
Improper Medical Care
Nursing homes are not just a place for residents to live, eat, and socialize. They are also a place where elders should receive the medical care they need. If your loved one’s health has deteriorated since they moved into the nursing home, or if they continue to run out of medication early, or are given too much medication, it could be a sign of abuse.
You are Not Allowed to Visit Your Loved One
Nursing home residents can refuse to have visitors, even when they are family members. However, if a staff member tells you that you are not allowed to visit, or they will not allow you to be alone with your loved one, this is a warning sign that abuse or neglect is happening.
Get Legal Help Today
If you notice any of these signs of elder abuse in nursing homes and suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. can help. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case.