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Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse

Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse

When an older relative reaches the point that they can no longer care for themself, a decision has to be made. Will family members step in and provide care, or will they trust their loved one’s well-being to professionals at a nursing home? The latter is a common and reasonable choice. 

Unfortunately, not all nursing homes provide a safe place for their residents. Your family member could be a victim of abuse while you aren’t even aware. Before you can take steps to prevent further abuse, you need to identify that it is happening. Look for the following signs to identify that your loved one is a victim of elder abuse. 

Unexplained Injuries 

One of the most obvious signs is unexplained broken bones, abrasions, or bruises. Some injuries are likely among the elderly, especially if they have difficulty walking. But nursing staff should be taking care to minimize those injuries and should never be causing them. 

If you see significant bruises, particularly on parts of the body that are usually covered by clothing, a staff member may be mishandling your loved one. Furthermore, if your loved one is admitted to the hospital because of an injury, you should demand that the doctors determine the cause. 

Bed Sores 

Another sign of elder abuse is the presence of untreated bed sores. Bed sores are almost inevitable in the elderly, especially if they are unable to get out of bed without assistance. But skilled nurses should be treating those sores and helping the patient move around to avoid them getting worse — even if that just means helping them switch positions throughout the day while staying in bed. 

The most definitive sign of abuse is a bed sore that has become infected or results in open wounds. 

Becoming Withdrawn 

If your loved one stops engaging in their usual activities or is spending less time with their friends or family, that could be a sign of abuse. Maybe they are avoiding other activities because they are in pain, or perhaps they are experiencing depression because of nursing home abuse. 

Becoming withdrawn isn’t always a sign of abuse. Some elderly people engage less as a result of things like loss of hearing or dementia. But it is a sign that you should follow up to determine the root cause. 

Poor Hygiene 

There is no excuse for your loved one to have poor hygiene while living in a nursing home. Even if they have lost interest in maintaining their hygiene or are no longer capable of physically cleaning themselves, nursing home staff should be performing those duties. 

Failure to maintain a patient’s hygiene is a form of negligence. Common signs of poor hygiene are: 

  • Scratching 
  • Unpleasant smells 
  • Lice 
  • Insects in your loved one’s room 
  • Unemptied garbage cans or garbage on the floor
  • Unwashed clothing 

You should act quickly if you see any of these signs. 

Your Loved One May Not Disclose Abuse 

One of the reasons you need to look for signs of abuse is that your loved one may not tell you they are being abused. If they are non-verbal or don’t have access to an unmonitored communication device, they may have no way of telling you they are being abused. 

Alternatively, some victims of elder abuse are embarrassed to discuss it. They may even deny it if you ask them about it. You shouldn’t look the other way just because an older relative refuses to speak to you about abuse, especially if you have strong evidence that it is occurring. 

Steps You Can Take 

There are two important steps you can take if your loved one is being abused. The most important step is to stop the abuse. If the abuse is being caused by a single person, you may be able to get the nursing home to suspend or fire the employee who is at fault. Otherwise, you may need to move them to a new facility. 

You should also contact an elder abuse attorney immediately. They can help arrange any paperwork, protect your loved one, and get started on filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit. 

Consult With an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in New York 

At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, we provide support for the victims of nursing home abuse and their families. We help you or your loved one escape the cycle of abuse and get compensation for the harm it causes. 

Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse attorney who cares.