When seniors reach a certain age, many families decide to entrust their care to a nursing home or assisted living facility. It’s hard to imagine any harm coming to your loved ones, especially when they are elderly people under professional supervision. The unfortunate reality is that nursing home abuse and neglect are more prevalent than you might think, especially as nursing home occupancies continue to grow. As painful as the process can be, sometimes we have to think the unthinkable to keep our loved ones safe from physical, verbal, mental, and sexual abuse. Make sure you monitor your loved one’s treatment and keep an eye out for these six common signs of nursing home abuse.
1. Physical injuries
Seniors are typically more prone to certain types of injury, but it’s worth keeping track of your loved one’s physical status. You may discover a pattern of bruising, cuts, and other wounds that cannot be explained within ordinary parameters. Broken bones, bed sores, asphyxiation, and head injuries may also indicate abusive treatment.
2. Change in physical appearance
Apart from visible wounds and injuries, you may notice changes in your loved one’s appearance. Watch out for rapid weight loss or weight gain. Weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and dry skin usually serve as evidence of malnutrition or dehydration. Lack of cleanliness and poor physical appearance may also indicate a deficiency in your loved one’s care.
3. Changed mental or emotional status
Do your elderly loved ones seem less emotionally stable than before? Do they refuse to speak or try to keep away from others? Emotional or mental distress could manifest in the form of mood swings, outbursts, and other uncharacteristic conduct. This applies not only to elders who are easily agitated, but also to those who suddenly become withdrawn and reclusive. Any significant changes in mental status could be interpreted as signs of abuse, so stay vigilant.
4. Sudden changes in behavior
You know your loved one better than anyone, so you may notice odd behaviors that never manifested before. Take note if your elderly loved one suddenly acts in a non-communicative manner, dislikes being touched, tries to wander or escape the nursing facility, or refuses to eat or take medications. Other unusual actions could include biting, rocking, and sucking on objects or fingers. Monitor your loved one’s behavior as closely as you can, because they could be acting out as a response to abuse.
5. Poor living conditions
Does your loved one act differently in the presence of any particular caregivers? Do they hesitate to speak when certain staff members are around, or do the staff members try to keep them isolated from others? If you notice this type of behavior, you may be able to identify a problematic caregiver. You should also make sure the premises are safe and that the facility employs sanitary practices at all times.
6. Frequent need for medical treatment
Frequent and unexplained injuries, infections, and illnesses are a major red flag for nursing home abuse. Nursing home staff have a responsibility to promptly report illnesses to the resident’s physician and family. Pay close attention to any injuries requiring emergency medical treatment or hospitalization, particularly when it comes to broken bones and fractures. Finally, make sure you understand the justification for any heavy medication or sedation administered to your loved one.
While these signs may not necessarily indicate nursing home abuse or neglect in a particular resident, they should be investigated as soon as possible. If you witness concrete evidence of abuse, neglect, or poor living conditions, make sure you voice your concerns immediately. You may also want to consider seeking legal recourse for any injury or distress your loved one has suffered. The compassionate attorneys at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP understand how painful it can be to confront nursing home abuse, but we are fully prepared to argue your case, obtain justice and safety for your aging loved one, and help your family receive fair compensation. Contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP today for a free consultation.