Elder Abuse Attorney Explains 10 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Written by Cooper & Friedman on September 14, 2015
Nursing home abuse and neglect can come in many forms and patterns. In 2000, the National Center on Elder Abuse reported that of the 2,000 nursing home residents being studied, 44 percent had been abused in some way. Of those who had been abused, 95 percent reported that they had been neglected while at a nursing home.
While elder abuse can occur in any kind of setting, a significant amount of elder abuse and neglect happens inside the walls of a nursing home. Due to the very real possibility of abuse and/or neglect in nursing homes, it is extremely important for caregivers, family members and nursing home residents to understand the signs and issues related to this type of misconduct.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – 10 Things To Watch For
“Abuse” and “neglect” are somewhat broad terms when applied to nursing home residents. Abuse, for example, can include: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, or abandonment. Regardless of the type of abuse, there are specific physical, behavioral and emotional signs you can watch out for that may signal a potential problem.
1. Open Wounds and Sores: This is a major indicator of physical abuse. These small cuts and abrasions could turn into a greater health problem. It is important to identify these wounds early on so you can get help for your loved one.
2. Unusual Hair Loss: While hair loss may be associated with the normal process of aging, this can also be a physical sign of stress and abuse.
3. Poor Hygiene: If your loved one is not being taken care of properly and frequently, they may be showing signs of poor hygiene. This can include body odor, unkempt hair, dirty clothing, bad breath, jagged fingernails, tooth decay and much more.
4. Confusion: Confusion can often be related to emotional abuse and dejection. If your loved one is acting more confused and anxious rather than their normal self, they could be feeling neglected or emotionally abused by their caregivers.
5. Depression: Unusual sadness and hopelessness can be a sign of emotional abuse. Mood swings can mean more than having a bad day. If you notice your loved one is expressing a melancholy temperament, there may be some underlying issues to discuss.
6. Unexplained Financial Losses: Sudden financial transfers or unexplained bank statements could mean your loved one is being financially abused. It is often suggested that a trusted family member is available to monitor finances for a person in a nursing home to make sure expenditures are normal. Financial abuse is sometimes connected to family members, so finding the right person to trust with money management is extremely important.
7. Visiting Access Denied: If you are within normal visiting hours for your loved one’s nursing home and you are not granted immediate access, this could be a sign of some form of abuse. You have the right to visit your loved one within the allotted hours and if this becomes denied, you should take this seriously.
8. Unusual Behavior: Beyond the “typical” emotional state of your loved one, if they are suddenly acting differently for any reason, you should begin to rule out any signs of abuse or neglect. Emotional changes can be common when transitioning to a nursing home, but it is also a sign of abuse.
9. Weight Loss: This physical reaction to abuse is actually very common. Make sure your loved one is being fed properly and adequately. If they continue down a path of weight loss, this may be a sign of neglect.
10. Physical Signs of Restraint: Along with the open wounds mentioned previously, any marks or cuts located near the wrists or ankles could help identify inappropriate forms of physical abuse and restraint.
These 10 signs of abuse described above aren’t always so easily identified. Many times they are mistaken as a normal part of the aging process.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected by their nursing home caregivers, seek help immediately. And keep in mind that some personal injury lawyers like elder abuse attorney Hal Friedman and Mike Cooper at Cooper & Friedman Attorneys at Law focus on cases that involve nursing home abuse, elder abuse and elder neglect. Working with a law firm that understands the nuances of this type of abuse and neglect will help maximize the chance that you receive the support you need to get through a challenging nursing home abuse trial.