Identifying The Signs Of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Currently, over 3 million adults live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities here in the U.S. Sadly, it’s estimated that about 10% of these adults will experience some form of abuse or neglect while in one of these nursing home or long-term care facilities. Many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect go unreported because the victim is too scared or unable to get help. Therefore, it’s often the family members of the victim who spot the signs of abuse or neglect and alert the authorities. What should you look for if you want to protect your loved one? Here are some of the warning signs of abuse and neglect:
A nursing home resident who is being abused or neglect may have noticeable physical changes as a result of the mistreatment. Residents who are neglected may start to lose a lot of weight or look like they have not been bathed as often as they should be. Their hair may not be brushed and they may be wearing the same clothes that they were in the last time that you saw them. Bed sores are often common among residents who are being neglected by the facility’s staff. If left untreated, bed sores can get worse over time and cause other health complications.
Residents who are physically abused may have unexplained bruises or scratches somewhere on their body. If you notice that your loved one is wearing bandages, ask her how she hurt herself. Some victims may try to cover for their abuser out of fear, so they may start to get nervous when you mention the bandages.
In severe cases of abuse, victims can also suffer broken or fractured bones. These physical injuries may be anywhere on the victim’s body, but you should pay close attention to the wrists and ankles. If there is bruising on these areas of the victim’s body, this could indicate that she is being physically restrained against her will, which is a form of abuse.
A victim that is sexually abused will most likely have bruising on the lower half of her body. She may also complain of pain or bleeding, and may have blood stains on her undergarments.
Emotional and Behavioral Changes
Being abused or neglected can be traumatizing for a victim, so you should also be on the lookout for emotional and behavioral changes that could indicate the victim is being mistreated. Everyone has a unique way of processing trauma, so any change in a loved one’s behavior should raise a red flag. It’s common for victims of abuse or neglect to isolate themselves. If you notice that your loved one is no longer friendly with other residents in the facility or does not want to participate in any activities, this is a sign of mistreatment. As you visit with your loved one, watch how she responds when nursing home employees enter the room. If she immediately clams up and seems nervous, this is a sign that she does not trust them or is scared of them.
Victims that have been abused or neglected can also have severe mood swings. Victims can experience a wide range of feelings, including sadness, embarrassment, anxiety, and anger. If you start to notice any of these emotional or behavioral changes, don’t be afraid to ask your loved one about what’s going on.
Other Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Nursing home residents may experience health issues as a result of their age. But, if they start to develop health problems that could be caused by poor living conditions, this indicates that they may be victims of abuse or neglect. For instance, if your loved one is getting frequent infections or is experiencing symptoms of malnutrition or dehydration, this is a sign that she is being abused or neglected. Nursing home residents who are being neglected may experience health complications if they have not been given their medications. For example, a resident with diabetes may experience a number of different side effects if her caretaker fails to give her insulin shots. If your loved one develops a health problem while in a nursing home, make sure that you speak with the doctor that is treating her to determine what caused the condition. If you believe that abuse or neglect played a role in your loved one’s health condition, you will need to speak to an attorney right away.
You should also be on the lookout for signs of financial abuse, which are very different than signs of other forms of abuse or neglect. Financial abuse occurs when an individual improperly or illegally uses a nursing home resident’s money or assets. For example, a nursing home employee can financially abuse a resident by stealing her checks or credit card information.
To spot this type of abuse, you will need to review your loved one’s financial information on a regular basis. Do you see any unexplained transfers or withdrawals of money? This could indicate that someone is financially abusing your loved one. You should also review your loved one’s credit card statements to make sure there are no unauthorized charges. Finally, make sure that none of your loved one’s valuables are missing from her room. If anything looks amiss, address the issue immediately before the problem becomes worse.
Do you believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home? If so, there’s no time to waste. It’s strongly recommended that you get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn how to seek justice on behalf of your loved one. Contact Carpenter & Zuckerman today to schedule a free consultation with our team of knowledgeable lawyers.
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