It is with unfortunate frequency that we see stories in the news about seniors being abused or neglected in the nursing homes that are supposed to keep them safe and happy. This abuse can range from stealing money and emotional manipulation to actual physical abuse and neglect.
If you have an elderly parent in a nursing home, here’s a quick overview of what you should know about elder abuse in these settings.
Types of abuse
There are several primary types of elder abuse that occur in nursing homes. Some abuse is obvious, such as a staff member physically, sexually or verbally abusing a resident. But not all abuse is so obvious.
Here are three general categories of abuse that might not be so easy to spot:
- Neglect: Almost everyone in a nursing home requires some level of assistance with certain daily tasks and activities. If, for example, a resident needs assistance at mealtime but does not get it, that person could become malnourished. This is a form of neglect and physical abuse.
- Financial abuse: There are stories of staff members stealing the personal property of a resident, or using a resident’s information to take money out of his or her bank account. Financial abuse can also come in the form of a worker pressuring a resident to modify a will or trust.
- False imprisonment: If staff prevent a resident from leaving an area, such as a room or a part of the facility, this is considered false imprisonment. Often, this form of abuse involves the person committing the abuse leaving the resident without a wheelchair or walker on purpose.
What to watch for
So how can you tell if your loved one is the victim of elder abuse in his or her nursing home? There are a number of warning signs you should watch out for. In general, keep an eye out for big changes in your loved one’s personality, or if they seem to be scared of you leaving them with the residence’s staff. More specific signs of abuse are as follows:
- Verbal abuse: Common signs of verbal abuse include visible anger or depression, a person blaming themselves for relatively minor problems, excessive fear around or about a certain person or behaviors such as mumbling, sucking and rocking.
- Sexual abuse: Common signs of sexual abuse include blood in undergarments, bleeding or bruising near the genitals or contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
- Physical abuse or neglect: Common signs of physical abuse or neglect include sudden unexplained weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, broken bones, bedsores, restraint marks, overmedication or injuries resulting from falls.
- Financial abuse: Common signs of financial abuse include frequent withdrawals from accounts, new loans, property losses or unexplained revisions to estate planning documents.
If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of elder abuse in his or her nursing home, it is important to work with an elder law attorney to take action. Contact us at Baker Law Group, P.C. to learn more about the legal options available to you.