Detecting Nursing Home Abuse

Considering the fact that more than 40% of people aged 65 and older will spend time in a nursing home, the subject of nursing home abuse is a personal one for many of us. When a loved one moves into a nursing home, it’s expected that they will be taken care of with professionalism and compassion. Unfortunately, the elderly are among the most vulnerable people in our society; all too often, abuse runs rampant at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. By knowing the signs of nursing home abuse, you can safeguard the elderly people in your life from harm.

Nursing home abuse tends to fall into three broad categories: emotional abuse, physical abuse and financial abuse. Below, you can familiarize yourself with the most common signs of each type of abuse.

Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse is one of the most insidious kinds of abuse, since it doesn’t leave any telltale marks or scars. People are emotionally abused through isolation, intimidation, threats, shouting, humiliation and many other techniques. A good way to detect emotional abuse in a loved one is by checking in with them often. Ask them how their day or week has been going; if they seem reluctant to discuss their life, something could be amiss. Sudden personality changes, such as depression in a person who’s always been happy-go-lucky, could be warning signs, too.

Physical Abuse – Physical abuse can be manifested in many disturbing ways. Bruises, scratches, welts and fractures are all apparent signs of physical abuse in the elderly. In extreme cases, death can even occur. Sometimes, the elderly are drugged or restrained against their will in nursing home environments. Keep your eyes peeled for unexplained injuries and be on the lookout for nursing home residents who appear to be over-medicated.

Financial Abuse – Financial abuse is especially problematic among elderly people who have dementia and other mental illnesses, since nursing home staff can slip into their rooms and steal their possessions. Identity theft can occur when personal information is pilfered, too. Look for unexplained cash withdrawals from bank accounts and missing items in loved ones’ rooms.

In addition to the preceding points, always been wary of facilities that are unsanitary and those that appear to be unsafe. Other signs to look for include sudden weight loss, bed sores and stiff joints. It is possible to detect nursing home abuse – you just have to be vigilant about it.

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