Most nurses are reliable and professional and truly care about the people they’re taking care of. Other people in this line of work, however, may not display the same level of caregiving skills or professionalism, which can be due to a number of factors including an understaffed facility, undertrained employees, or employees who are not being properly supervised. Some nurses and aides can become extremely aggressive or excessively dismissive. These problems should be an early warning sign to you.
Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse occurs frequently in some nursing homes. Neglect, one of the worst forms of abuse, also happens more often than one might realize. Nurse’s aides or the nurses themselves have a high degree of contact with residents. When residents are alone they often find themselves unable to communicate how they’re really being treated in the facility. For instance, they may experience difficulties recognizing exactly what’s happening to them. If you believe that someone you love is being mistreated by an employee in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, you may be the only voice they have. Abuse in nursing homes often goes unreported, so it is important for families to understand the signs of abuse and negligence to save their loved ones.
Warning Signs of All Types of Abuse
Physical abuse that occurs in a nursing home is truly horrendous, but in order for it to be considered as criminal, more evidence will be required before the person who caused the abuse can be brought to justice. If a senior citizen sustains a broken bone or a fracture without an explanation as to why there is a likelihood that they might have been abused. Beyond fractures or breaks, if a senior citizen has any bruises or marks on their body that continue to show up in certain places, this could be signs of physical abuse. One bruise may not indicate that someone was abused, but consistent bruising is an obvious sign of physical abuse. Injuries that cannot be explained are a clear sign that the abuse the resident has experienced has been ongoing.
Other warning signs to keep a lookout for include the following:
- Visible marks on a senior’s wrists – this could indicate that restraints were used
- Lots of broken personal items
- Caregivers that don’t allow you to spend time with your loved one alone
Emotional abuse is just as severe if not worse than physical abuse because the abuser can actually hide the evidence much easier. Several signs of emotional abuse include:
- Threatening or belittling behavior from the caregiver, including being verbally abusive, demeaning, or controlling
- Rocking, thumb sucking, or mumbling (self-soothing behaviors)
- Unusual behavior or intensification of dementia symptoms
Patients in nursing homes can sometimes be sexually abused because they’re not physically able to resist a person who is much younger and stronger than them. A couple of signs to look out for if your loved one has been sexually abused include:
- Unexplainable infections or STDs
- Bruised breasts or genitals
- Anal or vaginal bleeding that leaves stains on a loved one’s clothing
- Post-traumatic symptoms such as becoming angered easily or excessively irritable, difficulty sleeping, avoiding activities they once enjoyed, emotional numbness, or hyper-alertness
Financial abuse is another common experience a resident may face in a nursing home. If you notice suspicious withdrawals from a loved one’s financial account, missing cash, or unexplained changes to their finances, your loved one may have experienced financial abuse. Some possible signs of financial abuse include:
- Forged signatures
- Using manipulation or deception tactics to get a resident’s signature
- Cashing income checks that belong to a resident
- Unethical use of power of attorney or guardianship
- Stealing personal possessions from a resident
Nursing home abuse also includes neglecting patients who need care. The caregivers aren’t doing their jobs, thus making the care your loved one is receiving substandard at best. Seniors could appear to be dirty or unkempt when they’re not receiving appropriate care, or when staff are not assisting them with their daily life activities. Elder neglect is another type of abuse; however, mistreatment isn’t limited to only one area. Other signs of negligence in a nursing home might be:
- Inadequate clothing for weather conditions or not being allowed to go outside at all to socialize
- Signs of starvation or dehydration including fainting, dizziness, sunken eyes, extremely dry skin, abnormally dark urine, and severe weight loss
- Developing bedsores due to not being moved enough in bed
- Unsatisfactory living conditions such as bug infestation issues, inadequate cooling or heating in uncomfortable weather conditions, or unsanitary or dirty rooms
Other Warning Signs of Elder Abuse to Be Aware Of
Seniors usually display other signs of abuse besides scarring and bruising. Abuse in an elderly care facility can affect seniors in other apparent ways that can occur after the mistreatment or abuse starts, including:
- Changes in their personal hygiene habits
- Changes in their mood
- Changes in their sleeping habits
- Changes in their eating habits
Talk With Your Loved One About Abuse
It’s important that families listen to the ones they love, because this may be the only way they’ll be able to find out if they are being abused in their nursing home. Seniors who suffer from dementia could make wild accusations that aren’t supported by reality due to their condition, but even with that being said, you should take everything they say to you seriously, even if what they’re saying might seem to be way out in left field. Families don’t need to contact the police to report every suspected act of misconduct, but if a loved one mentions being mistreated by a certain employee, there may be a need to further inquire about it.
What You Should Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
If you think abuse may be happening inside of your loved one’s nursing home, you should file a complaint with the facility and contact the authorities. These are the first steps you need to take in reporting nursing home abuse.
If you have evidence that proves that your loved one has been abused, make sure you document as much of it as possible, including taking photos of the evidence, making copies of financial documents or statements, and writing specific details down. Verify that your loved one is all right if they are in imminent danger, and make sure that you’re safe as well. File a complaint, talk to the administrators of the nursing home, and call 911.
Finally, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at the Eichholz Law Firm will help you put together a civil lawsuit so you can recover any compensation your loved one lost and make sure that they get the proper nursing care they rightfully deserve.
Contact the Eichholz Law Firm at 855-551-1019 or fill out an online contact form.