Nursing home abuse occurs when residents of a nursing home or an assisted living facility experience physical and or emotional mistreatment. Sadly, the patient’s family members are often unaware of the abuse. Knowing some tell-tell signs may help to prevent further abuse or even prevent death.
Signs of Abuse
Abuse not only takes the form of physical abuse, can happen as emotional abuse as well. For example, staff may subject elderly patients to emotional abuse by speaking to patients in a lewd or rude manner or by threatening patients. Physical abuse may be occurring when a family member observes any of the following:
- Bruising or bleeding that isn’t normal
- Open wounds
- Sudden changes in weight
- Bloody clothing or bedding
- Unresponsiveness in the patient
- Strange or unusual behavior
Signs of Neglect in Nursing Home Patients
Bed sores are painful ulcers that form at pressure points on a patient’s body. These sores often occur in someone who is bedridden and must stay in one position for too long. Turning the patient at least every two hours can help to alleviate problems with bed sores.
Although bed sores are somewhat common in bedridden patients, neglect may be a problem if the sores are not healing properly or if new sores frequently appear. Family members should examine their loved ones for bed sores because sores are sometimes hidden by bed sheets or clothing.
Indeed, neglect is a common form of abuse in nursing homes. Malnutrition may cause a patient to fall and break a hip or another other bone. If the patient had to lay on the floor for hours waiting for help, the patient will likely experience emotional stress in addition to the physical pain.
Dementia patients who have lost the ability to function on their own are all too often victims of neglect. Nursing home staff must pay attention to dementia patients’ needs because those patients often do not know when to drink water or when to eat. If staff neglect happens, these patients may become dehydrated and or malnourished.
Problems with Staff
Family members should observe what happens when they arrive at the nursing home without announcing their plans to visit. If the staff takes longer than necessary to allow entrance, the staff may be hiding something. A family member might also want to investigate if a staff member is always present in the room during visits to the nursing home.
Family members should pay attention if a resident is ill more often than usual. Staff should promptly report illness to the patient’s doctor and the family members — otherwise, a lack of notice could mean that the staff has been negligent.
A nursing home abuse overview would not be complete without a mention of financial abuse. Unfortunately, seniors become victims of exploitation all too often. A resident with Alzheimer’s or dementia is frequently dependent on caregivers for financial management of his affairs. Unfortunately, a caregiver might take advantage of the patient’s inability to manage on his own.
Financial abuse can also happen if staff members of nursing homes steal belongings or cash from residents. Unauthorized use of credit cards and bank accounts may also be a problem. Accordingly, family member need to watch for sudden changes in bank account balances.