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How to spot elder abuse in nursing homes

We all want what's best for our loved ones as they age. Sometime, that involves moving them to a place where they can have frequent and individualized medical attention. When we're looking for nursing homes, we always search for one that will provide the best comfort and suit our loved one's needs.

But the elderly can be vulnerable. If they're not getting the care they need, that's a problem. Even worse, they could be facing neglect or abuse. It's important to know the signs of abuse in nursing home so you can keep your loved ones safe.

What is elder abuse?

Several types of abuse can happen to the elderly in nursing home, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. The consequences of abuse range from physical harm to permanent emotional damage to death.

What to look for

When you visit you loved ones in the nursing home, be attentive. Oftentimes an elderly person won't want to come out and complain about the abuse. They might fear being a burden to their family or they could worry about retaliation, so it's up to you to spot the subtle signs that sometimes signals that something isn't right.

  • Staff: A nursing home's quality comes from the staff it employs. A good staff can provide a wonderful and nurturing experience, but a poor or inadequate staff can make things go downhill fast. Are there frequent staffing changes? Does the staff seem frantic and disorganized? Are call lights going unanswered? Is the staff evasive? Does your loved one seem distressed by certain staff members? These are all warning signs you should take seriously.
  • Physical signs: Unexplained bruises, bedsores, cuts or fractures are red flags. So is weight loss, malnourishment and dehydration. All these point to physical abuse and neglect. Does your loved one try to hide injuries or makes excuses for their injuries? That's a bad sign, too.
  • Sexual abuse: Injuries to the genitals or breasts, bloody underwear and sexually transmitted disease could indicate sexual abuse. This ranges the gamut from being forced to watch pornography to rape. 
  • Emotional changes: Mental abuse can take a harsh toll on someone living in a nursing home. New and unexplained depression, anxiety, insomnia and withdrawal are signs to look out for.

Finding representation

It's difficult deciding to put a loved one into a nursing and you always want the best care possible. If your loved one does not receive this care, you may want to seek advice. An attorney experienced in dealing with nursing homes can counsel you on the best possible course of action. It's important to make sure a nursing home never puts more emphasis on making money than taking care of your loved one.

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