It’s nothing short of frightening when you think about your mom or dad being mistreated in the nursing home they are living in. Imagine what your loved one must be feeling — having to go through mistreatment, abuse and neglect, and not being able to confide in anyone.
An elderly person may be too weak, or too afraid to defend themselves or speak up against the abuser out of fear of retaliation. Nursing home abuse is a serious issue and something you should not overlook, especially if you’ve noted some signs of nursing home abuse, even if all you have are suspicions.
According to a study by the National Center on Elder Abuse, about 10% of all seniors living in nursing homes have experienced some form of abuse. The percentage may be higher because most cases go unreported.
Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse
There are several types of elderly abuse that your loved one may be subjected to in a nursing home, which include:
- Physical abuse: Inflicting of physical pain and injuries on an elderly person
- Emotional abuse: Include verbal assaults, harassment, intimidation, and threats
- Sexual abuse: Include fondling, touching, sexual intercourse, and any other sexual activity without the consent of the elderly person. They may be coerced, threatened or physically forced into it.
- Abandonment and neglect: Failure to provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, medication, and clothing
- Healthcare fraud: Withholding or misusing the resources of the older person.
- Confinement: Isolating or retraining an elderly person for reasons that are not medical
What Are The Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
In most nursing homes, you’ll find that the caretakers are the perpetrators of the abuse, so it’s up to you, and the other family members, to check for signs of nursing home abuse, and report the case. Essentially, there are dozens of warning signs of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment that you can look out for.
In this post, however, we are going to address the seven most apparent signs.
1. Physical and Emotional Changes
Physical and emotional changes are the most noticeable changes that will tell the story. When you visit your loved one at the nursing home, observe how they look and act. If you notice they are no longer active or partake in activities they used to love, you should start paying attention.
Check whether they have withdrawn themselves and become less communicative than you know them to be. Do those changes have anything to do with their medical condition, or does it seem odd to you?
If your loved one is experiencing emotional abuse, they are possibly going to be withdrawn, agitated and fearful. Beyond that, you may notice they’ve lost weight or their appetite, and they have changes in their moods.
Physical abuse or nursing home neglect should be a concern if you notice skin tears, and unexplained bruises, especially in unnoticeable areas, such as hips, back, and thighs.
It goes without saying that these signs are not necessarily proof of lousy treatment because they may also be signs of an underlying illness. Visit the nursing homes unexpectedly to check up on them and ask the staff members to explain anything unusual.
2. Dehydration and Malnourishment
One of the most insidious nursing home neglect signs is dehydration. If your loved one is being mistreated, they may be denied food and drinks to keep them malnourished and dehydrated. Additionally, if the nursing home has inadequate staff, then the residents may not receive the high-quality care you are paying for.
3. Frantic and Inadequate Staff
Sometimes, it may be hard for a nursing home to avoid thin-stretched staff for various reasons. Still, observe whether the place is chaotic every time you visit. How well are the staff coordinated? How well do they work together to care for your loved ones? How is their general attitude towards you and the residents?
Check whether they mingle with the residents during meal times or they huddle amongst themselves. What about important information, does it get lost in between shifts? The leadership should not be overlooked either, so check how involved the person in charge is in running the facility.
4. Unanswered and Deflected Questions
You should never feel like the nursing home staff have something to hide. If you notice that they keep deflecting or evading your questions, you should start worrying about your loved one’s care. If they don’t want to discuss the care of your loved one with you, it should raise a red flag.
Sometimes they may tell you that they don’t know the answer to what you’re asking, but promise to find out, which can be acceptable. However, such answers should not be the norm. If you get responses such as “this is how we do things here” or “old people go through this” then start making plans to transfer your loved one to a better nursing home.
5. Distress and Discomfort Towards Staff Members
One of the significant nursing home abuse and neglect signs you should never overlook is when your loved one tells you they don’t want certain staff members taking care of them. In a professional nursing home, your loved one would never feel distressed or uncomfortable about having certain people around them.
Never ignore such a statement from your loved one because it may be a sign of nursing home abuse. Even if they don’t say it, observe their reaction when staff members come near them. Are they happy, anxious, or fearful?
6. Poor Personal Hygiene
When you brought your loved one to the nursing home, you expected that they would be assisted with basic activities such as personal hygiene. Most residents in such facilities need help when it comes to bathing, dressing, combing their hair, clipping their nails, brushing their teeth, among other things. If your loved one is experiencing nursing home neglect, they will have poor personal hygiene, and you can notice it. You’d be surprised at the lack of oral hygiene in nursing homes.
7. Your Instinct
Ultimately your instinct is always right. If you feel uneasy whenever you visit your loved one, you need to get to the bottom of things. You know your mom or dad better than anyone, and you know whether their illness would cause the behaviors they elicit. If not, check for signs of nursing home abuse and save your loved one.
What Do You Do?
If you notice these signs of nursing home abuse, what do you do? Depending on the level of abuse and neglect, you can start by calling the local police.
You can then report the case to the National Center on Elder Abuse or find the best nursing home lawyer you can and allow them to make the report. They will also discuss the best legal steps to take after that. Check our website for more info about it.