How To Identify Nursing Home Abuse
Time is the one foe we humans will never beat. Getting older is just a part of life, and we all like to think our loved ones will be there for us, just like we were for our parents as they got older.
Most of the time, nursing homes offer the best facilities for seniors in their sunset years, but as outrageous and cruel as it may sound, nursing home abuse is a thing that occasionally happens. Seniors subjected to abuse are often unable to speak up for a variety of reasons, and it is usually up to family and loved ones to find out for themselves that abuse is taking place. So how can you accurately identity nursing home abuse?
Physical Nursing Home Abuse
Physical abuse of the elderly can involve assault, battery, hitting, punching or using restraints inappropriately. It is usually the easiest to identify as the evidence is in the open. Be on the lookout for:
- Bruises, welts and scrapes—these can result from being grabbed, restrained for extended periods, or plain old blunt force trauma. Pay special attention to the wrists, upper arms and ankles.
- Broken & fractured bones—one thing that’s unflattering about aging is how frail you can get. More often than not, seniors are prone to fractures in their hips, wrists, and elbows—primarily the joints. Although this usually happens in accidental falls, a doctor should be able to know whether a fracture was caused by a fall or by assault.
A senior who starts covering up, by wearing longer sleeves for instance (when before they did not), may be hiding bruises or welts.
Changes in mood can be a sign of nursing home abuse. A senior who is subject to abuse from a caregiver will be on edge, eternally ready for a showdown. If an elder suddenly starts acting withdrawn and nervous, there is probably a problem.
Emotional Nursing Home Abuse
While some would scoff at talk of emotional abuse, it can actually affect you far more severely than a boot to the side would. A physical wound can heal with a little personal effort, but emotional wounds can fester for years and drain you of the will to live. For a senior who is dependent on their caregiver, this can be quite devastating.
Emotional abuse can be gradual, carried out over a long period of time. Sometimes, the resident is not even aware of the caregiver’s abuse, but the signs are usually there. Unlike physical abuse, these wounds are more subtle, and they need more observation to spot. This also occurs when the elder is repeatedly ignored or left alone by nursing home staff. You'll have to watch for changes in behavior, such as:
- Low self esteem
- Acute mood swings
- Avoiding eye contact
- Withdrawal from social activities
Nursing Home Neglect
Just as bad as other forms of abuse, neglecting seniors is sadly quite common. Neglect can occur in various ways, including:
- Unsafe and unclean living conditions
- Not bathing or helping a senior keep clean
- Not feeding a senior regularly
- Fails to provide reasonable food, water, or a safe environment
- Inadequate attention, prevention, or medication for problems like infections, cuts, diseases, or bed sores
- Medication errors
A neglected senior will most likely:
- Be unsuitably dressed (for the weather or time of day)
- Have soiled bedding and dirty clothes
- Go through an unusual loss of weight