Signs of Potential Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home
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The Department of Justice estimates that at least one in ten elderly people are victims of abuse each year in the United States. The abuse takes on many forms: financial, sexual, psychological, and physical. If you are one of the millions of Americans that have a parent or loved one in elder care, you need to be aware of ways they may be in danger.
We do not want to believe that people we trust to care for our elderly loved ones would harm them. But unfortunately, the elderly are extremely vulnerable when they are in nursing homes and visitors should be ever vigilant. Neglect and abuse can and do occur. Here are some signs to help you spot when care has gone wrong.
Nursing Home Neglect Signs
Please bear in mind that not all of the issues listed below are necessarily caused by neglect or abuse. But knowing what to watch out for is helpful, and if you see many of these signs manifesting, it may be time to do more than just question and call for help.
- Sudden weight loss
- Bedsores, or pressure ulcers
- Injuries from nursing home falls
- Social withdrawal or other abrupt changes in behavior
- Lack of personal hygiene or other visible changes in appearance
- Limited engagement with staff, or a lack of normal communication
- Limited socialization with other nursing home residents
- Environmental hazards, including poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe equipment or furniture
Elder abuse is unfortunately common and particularly difficult to uncover. What if a medical provider is billing for the care it is not providing? How do you know if your aunt just slipped and fell because she is old and frail or if the nursing home has really neglected its duties? It is essential to encourage loved ones to communicate with you regularly and speak out if they feel there are any situations or symptoms consistent with either abuse or neglect.
You can rarely be sure but it is better to be safe than sorry if you see some warning sign of neglect or abuse. Speak to the staff and don’t accuse. But do try to ascertain what is happening and to signal that you are engaged and aware. Make it clear that someone cares what happens to this elderly person. And if necessary, speak to authorities.
The generation that bore the brunt of our nation’s burdens, and looked after us in their middle age, deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. It is important to keep a calm and reasonable frame of mind when there are suspicions of neglect or abuse because our emotions come into play when we are concerned about the care that our loved ones are receiving. The vast majorities of nursing homes are professional, conscientious, and want to build a good rapport with both the inhabitants of a nursing home and their families. Be calm, be reasonable, but be firm if you feel you are not getting the true picture of the nature of care that your loved-one is receiving.