9 Telltale Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Did you know that roughly 1 in 10 elderly people are abused by caretakers?
Although it’s challenging to find solid elder abuse statistics, there’s no denying that this is a prevalent issue. A primary reason why it’s difficult to gather accurate elder abuse data is because many loved ones don’t recognize the signs of mistreatment.
Do any of your loved ones live in a nursing home? If so, learning about the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse will be crucial for protecting their wellbeing. Keep reading for nine ways to tell if your loved one isn’t receiving proper care.
Bedsores, Bruising, and Other Physical Signs
Some of the most obvious signs of elder abuse are physical. Even if your loved one doesn’t want to speak about their trauma, their body may provide the evidence you need.
If you notice that your loved one has any ailments such as bruising, bedsores, sprains, or redness around the wrists from restraints, these injuries can all point to abuse. Although older people are naturally more at risk of falls and injuries from daily activities, the injuries listed above should only rarely happen (if ever) under the supervision of a caring staff.
Changes in Mental State
If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other kind of disease that affects their cognitive abilities, then even the best caretakers can’t prevent their symptoms from progressing. However, if your loved one isn’t suffering from a diagnosed illness but has an altered state of awareness, the nursing home may be responsible for these changes.
Some caregivers may give their patients unnecessary medication to make them drowsy and quiet. If you notice that your loved one isn’t operating at peak awareness, they may be getting drugged.
Reclusiveness Caused by Nursing Home Neglect
When people are mistreated by those who should be taking care of them, it’s normal to act withdrawn or sad. Reclusiveness caused by nursing home neglect is most obvious when exhibited by those who are usually bubbly and extroverted.
If your loved one avoids contact with others, especially their caregivers, this is an indication that something is wrong.
Mood swings, irritability, and emotional breakdowns are a few examples of how nursing home abuse or neglect can negatively impact your loved one’s mental health. If your loved one hasn’t been diagnosed with an illness that affects their mental abilities, their unhappiness is a sign that they are not being nurtured.
If you’ve noticed that their emotional instability began after moving into the nursing home, or if their mental health has declined over time, then the change may indicate that their caregivers are not providing sufficient care.
Defiance or Fear of Caretakers
Another emotional symptom of neglect or abuse can be an elder’s defiance or fear of their caretakers. If your well-mannered loved one doesn’t want to cooperate with their caretaker, even on the smallest things, this should be a red flag. Since fear is a stronger emotional response, you should take action to remove your loved one from that facility immediately.
Since elder abuse is so prevalent, it’s crucial to take their verbal and nonverbal cues seriously. If your loved one will not say that they are afraid, but their body stiffens at the sight of their caretakers, then they don’t feel safe.
Poor Hygiene or Appearance
Maintaining proper hygiene goes far beyond vanity. Good hygiene can reduce your loved one’s risk of getting sick, improve mental health, and help them foster meaningful relationships with others. If your loved one’s appearance or hygiene starts to suffer when they move into their nursing home, then the staff is likely neglecting their needs.
Some signs of neglect could include unkempt hair, dirty clothes, a sickly complexion, unbrushed teeth, and a bad odor. Each time you visit your loved one, make sure that they look and feel their best. It’s what they deserve as well a mandatory service that the nursing home is paid to perform.
Concerning Nursing Home Issues: Hovering Caregivers
Have you ever noticed that a caregiver is always present whenever you are visiting your loved one? Do they get too involved or speak for your loved one? If so, this could be a sign that the staff is surveilling all interactions to prevent any patients from sharing bad experiences.
Unless your loved one requires frequent care, you should be allowed some privacy to enjoy your quality time together. If a caregiver refuses to leave after you ask politely, then this is the clearest indicator that abuse is occurring behind the scenes.
Unexplained Injuries or Hospitalizations
Since elderly people’s bodies get frailer as they age, injuries aren’t always a cause for suspicion. However, if the rate of injuries is unusually high, the caregivers may be guilty of abuse or neglect.
Vague explanations from the staff regarding injuries is another red flag suggesting abuse. If the staff cannot give you detailed explanations or different caregivers recount contradictory stories, then they could be attempting to hide the real reason why your loved one is injured.
Changes in Financial Status
When you think of abuse or neglect, money isn’t likely the first thing that comes to mind. Although physical and emotional symptoms are more serious, you shouldn’t forget to keep an eye on your loved one’s finances.
Since elderly people can be easy to take advantage of, sneaky caregivers may sabotage nursing home residents’ finances in a number of ways. If your loved one has built a trusting relationship with a caregiver who has ulterior motives, then they are even more at risk of falling victim to a financial scam or outright theft. Changing their will, giving out their PIN, or granting access to savings accounts are just a few things you should look out for.
Do You Need a Lawyer Who’s Experienced with Nursing Home Abuse Cases?
If your loved one shows any of these signs of nursing home neglect, they deserve justice.
Are you considering taking legal action to fight against elder abuse? If so, KBA Attorneys would love to help. Contact us for a free case consultation and to learn more about our services.
- David Landers. “Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Injury or Abuse”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/recognizing-the-signs-nursing-home-injury-abuse.html. Accessed July 8, 2019.