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Signs of Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Homes

Elder neglect and abuse is an escalating concern given that some two million seniors reside in our nation’s long-term care facilities. According to research by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, as many as five million older adults are victims of abuse or mistreatment every year. Many residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities suffer from cognitive impairment – sometimes losing the capacity to recognize mistreatment and defend themselves from negligent or abusive caregivers.

The grim reality is that many of our aging loved ones are subject to a range of unspeakable acts, from physical and verbal abuse to isolation and sexual exploitation. In order to prevent the abuse and mistreatment of your family members or loved ones, it’s important to recognize red flags that signal an older adult is being harmed.

Nursing home neglect warning signs

  • Signs of physical abuse – Be alert for unexplained injuries such as bruises, burns, broken bones, cuts, pressure marks, abrasions or signs of being restrained. If the explanations given by nursing home staff don’t sound “right,” they warrant additional questions and research.
  • Signs of emotional abuse – Verbal abuse is much more challenging to detect, especially in victims with dementia who cannot express what is happening to them. Look out for unusual behavior or personality changes: sudden depression or withdrawal, or biting and rocking. Have you seen the caregiver yell at or belittle your loved one? Have they been forced into isolation from other residents against their will? Anxious or nervous behavior around the caregiver may indicate an elder is fearful. Be concerned if the caregiver doesn’t want you to be alone with your loved one, or doesn’t let them speak for themselves.
  • Signs of Neglect – Understaffed nursing homes may not be equipped or have the trained personnel to ensure your loved one’s most basic needs are being met. This neglect may be passive or intentional, resulting in unusual weight loss, soiled diapers, bed sores, dirty clothes, poor hygiene, unsanitary conditions, and increased incidences of illness or injury due to lack of adequate supervision. Other signs of neglect are lack of basic medical aids such as glasses, a hearing aid or medication.
  • Signs of Sexual Abuse – Bruises near the genitals or breasts, blood-stained undergarments, unexplained venereal diseases or urinary tract infections, difficulty walking, as well as withdrawn behavior around certain caregivers.
  • Signs of Financial Abuse – Long-term caregivers are in a unique position to exploit their patients financially, using harassment, threats or false pretenses to steal money and assets. Be alert for unexplained bank withdrawals, frequent ATM withdrawals, unusual credit card purchases, new co-signers on bank accounts or credit cards, and changes in power of attorney.

Elder abuse lawyers in California

While the presence of one of these signs does not automatically indicate that abuse is occurring, it does merit further investigation to ensure the safety of your loved one. In the end, it’s always wise to report your concerns to your California long-term care ombudsman, or local adult protective services agency.

The elder abuse attorneys at Ellis Law stand prepared to bring abusive and negligent caregivers to justice. Leveraging more than 20 years of experience in elder abuse law, our legal team offers aggressive legal representation to victims throughout southern California.  Call 1-800-INJURED to arrange a confidential case review today.

Additional “Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect” Resources:

  1. Next Avenue, 6 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect http://www.nextavenue.org/6-signs-of-nursing-home-neglect/
  2. Caring.com, 5 Signs of Elder Abuse https://www.caring.com/articles/signs-of-elder-abuse
  3. ElderAbuseHelpline, Identifying Elder Abuse Types & Signs Risk factors for elder abuse http://www.elderabusehelpline.com.au/for-professionals/identifying-elder-abuse-types-signs